“If adventures do not befall a lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” – Jane Austen
With this in mind, my adventures began on a faraway land. And the memories of which I cherish the most till now. Europe is a vast continent to cover in just one travel unless you are on leave for about six months, which is practically impossible for a working woman like me. Hence, I decided to do bits and parts of Europe on this five-day tour. The places I visited were Venice, Switzerland and Austria.
Venice – Gondo like it Venezia!
The Grand Canal and the famous gondola ride – does that already mesmerise you? Well, mesmerising is an understatement, when the city you are visiting floats on waters of the Grand Canal. I stayed there at San Marco – the heart of the town. The must-visits are the St. Mark’s square, the magnifico Rialto Bridge, Murano city (if you get a good one day time). Other than these, do not miss out the beautiful bridges – Ponte dell’Accademia, Ponte degli Scalzi, Ponte dell Guglie, as well as magnificent churches – The Basilica of St. Mark and Church of Santa Maria della.
Flash flood is an experience (only for tourists, for citizens it’s mayhem) when water from the canal enters the city, and you walk around with ankle-length water, wearing colourful plastic boots. The flash flood happens during October – January, so if you are around there that time, then definitely get flashed!
Switzerland – for the love of nature
Taking a train from Venice to Lucerne (via Milano), I reached the country of love, Switzerland. A city enveloped by the gigantic and gorgeous alps, and the station overlooking the amazingly clean Lucerne lake, it was quite a sight; dreamy I must say. Before we take a tour of this lovely country, some things to note. Swiss travel is worth the burn in your wallet, but it will be better to plan and book a Swiss pass before travelling. That will make your commute and sightseeing much cheaper and way more manageable. For four days, the Swiss pass costs EUR 256 approximately pax. This includes public transport like buses, trains, cable cars, and even cruise for free, and you also get good discounts to visit the major destinations of the country. Also, do not forget to get your warm clothes. Must visits here are – ‘Jungfrau’, The top of Europe and the journey to the top by a cogwheel train is one heck of an experience; Mt. Titlis is breathtakingly beautiful, with its cable car journey through Trübsee, which is again like a dream; Rheinfall, Interlaken, Matterhorn. In Lucerne city, you should visit the Lion Monument, The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and do the Lucerne lake cruise.
Austria – Arrive and Revive
My final destination took me to Vienna – the capital of Austria. I stayed at Stephansplatz, one of the most famous squares of the city and the whole place is so urban, yet historical. You have pubs and open-air restaurants at the centre, while still surrounded by historical monuments- St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, MuseumsQuartier. Take a walk around the city or take the Vienna ring tram sightseeing to see the famous places, like the Parliament, Opera house, Vienna Museum, Natural History Museum, Imperial Palace, City Hall, etc. The city has many Palaces to visit, hence, do not miss the beautiful and unique architecture of these monuments, especially, the gorgeous green dome. I went to see two magnificent and charming Palaces in Vienna – The Schönbrunn Palace and The Belvedere Palace. After the city tour, take a stroll around the Danübe river, and feed the ducks and relax by the bankside.
If you have some time, do visit nearby cities around Vienna, like Salzburg, Hallstatt, etc. I went to Salzburg – the birth place of Mozart. It’s truly a musical city. You can do the ‘Sound of Music’ tour, or go around the city – visit Mozart’s birthplace building, Hellbrunn palace, Festung Hohensalzburg (fortress Salzburg). Enjoy the funicular ride to the top of the fortress.
As all good things come to an end, so did this trip. It was nothing but a refreshing and a magical one, with the hopes and promise of revisiting Europe, with new goals and destinations in mind. Here’s to the twinkling desires of writing European dreams Part II, if not very soon, then at least sometime soon.
NB: The budget of the whole trip might go a little less than two lakhs for one person (Switzerland taking a big chunk of the pie), but at the end, you will be satisfied and come back rejuvenated. Your budget will definitely come down, if you are backpacking and living in hostels/dorms rather than hotels like I did.
By Manali Debroy