Travelling through Europe is a long held dream for thousands of people around the world. Apart from countless scintillating experiences, Sweden has given me the unique opportunity to travel around Europe since I have a Schengen visa that allows me to move around Europe without restrictions. It would take a series of posts and strings of numerous words to describe the joy and memories of the trip, but I would prefer starting off with a post that covers it’s preparatory aspect.
The preparations are of course, by some distance, the most crucial aspect of any trip. The first hurdle was to determine the places that we wanted to visit. It is no secret that a continent as rich and diverse as Europe has much more to offer than just the famous ‘post-card’ destinations. But being a first-time traveller in Europe I really wanted to get some of these popular tourist spots off my bucket list. So for me visiting Paris and Barcelona was a must. I was travelling with a couple of friends, and one of them was over 26 years in age. This is a very crucial number while travelling in Europe; you get free entry to museums in many cities, reduced fares on Euro rail pass, discounted entrance fee to monuments and similar benefits if you are under-26. All you need to do is show a valid ID to avail the discount. This was the reason we did not take the Euro rail pass to travel; the person over 26 years of age had to pay almost twice in ticket prices and on top of that full entrance fee to all monuments and museums.
So, the next best option was to check Ryanair flights and chalk out a suitable route that covers Paris and Barcelona. Ryanair website is user friendly and offers the option to plan a trip, showing the bookings made, prices, alternate destinations in that price range, price variations over different days in a month and the cheapest flights from that city. After considerable effort we managed to rope-in Milan and Venice as the next two destinations. Having seen so much of Venice in pictures and movies, my excitement mounted to a new high when I realised I will be going there for real!
Then we came down to packing and getting ourselves in order for travelling. We followed the age old tip of travelling light, and only took summer clothes with us. No heavy jeans or jackets, many pairs of socks, rain coats, couple of water bottles and usual washroom kit. All three of us needed back packs to carry our stuff. The best option is to try the second hand store. We found really cheap back-packs in great condition at a nearby second hand store. Ryanair has certain restrictions in terms of weight and dimensions of the backpack, if you want to keep it in the flight cabin on board. We strictly followed all the flight regulations regarding luggage and measured both the weight and dimensions of our bags before leaving, and ensured that the contents were in line with the regulations.
The days leading up to the trip were spent booking hostels and searching for places to visit and things to do in these four cities; watching videos, reading blogs and comments from old travellers and trying to pile up all relevant information to move around the city. The build up was entertaining and gave air to the already surging thrill in us to go out and explore. The details of our endeavours would follow in the following weeks tough!