Anubhav Jain realized that Europe lives up to its image of a fairyland, while on his 9D/8N trip to Europe with his wife. Booking through TravelTriangle, his tour package covered their accommodation, some transfers and railway tickets — at a price of Rs.95,798. Here is what he has to share.
Work fills your pocket, while travel fills the soul. As a traveler, I try to make the best of the the destinations I choose. Since my wife had never visited Europe, I finalized upon this beautiful part of the world. My trip turned out to be just the perfect one, as I had worked on every possible detail beforehand. My research over my destinations made me feel like I knew the place already, when I actually visited them. I never got puzzled and everything fell in place. But the credit of having had a perfectly managed trip has to be shared with TravelTriangle, who were always there for me to customize my trip and offer further assistance.
Day 1: Arriving in the Italian capital
We landed in Rome at around 7:30 and were transferred to hotel Laura via shuttle. Our hotel was located in the heart of Rome, with the Bolgna Metro station within walking distance. It took around 1.5 hours to reach the hotel and our day was free for leisure. Suffering from jet-lag, we relaxed at the hotel for a while and in the evening went for a stroll around the nearby piazza, just 3-4 metro station away from ours.
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Day 2: Roaming around Rome
Opening the morning with a basic breakfast, (offering sweet pastries, bread and jam, packets of French toast and cereals) we prepared for the HoHo tour. The pickup point for the tour was just 2-3 stations away by metro. The bus took us through the streets and piazzas of the ancient, spellbinding city of Rome.
From Papal Basilica to Piazza Barberini — we wanted to visit all the places that the tour takes through, but could not visit some, because of an ongoing marathon. Yet, places like the grand Vatican laid bare Rome’s historic beauty, which got further beautified by the perfect romantic weather. Moreover, I enjoyed the flexibility and liberty that the tour offered (it was my first-ever HoHo ride). The buses were regular and the drop-points were within walking distance of the destinations. The bus tour ended at around 7 and we headed back to our hotel.
Being vegetarian is a challenge in Europe. So, we had to carry our own eatables and snacks during most of the tour. But for dinner, we managed to find a restaurant which offered us the food of our choice.
Day 3: Florence – The cradle of the Renaissance
After a 2-day peep into the life in Rome, we took to Florence via train. After a beautiful ride that lasted for almost an hour, we reached Florence and took a bus to the hostel Wow Florence. Since I had done an extensive research for almost two months, I was well aware of the routes of the local buses. The hostel was located at a 10-15 min walking distance from the main piazza and other famous tourist attractions in Florence. This hostel turned out to be better than the hotel in Rome, with a fairly casual interior and a company of young people livening up the space.
Since Florence is a small town, we preferred exploring the local area on foot. While strolling its streets, we came across a restaurant run by a Pakistani man. We began talking, and requested the food of our choice. He served us our dinner, which we liked, but the best part was yet to come — on the subsequent day.
Day 4: Making the best of local tours
The next day, we went to the same restaurant again, where the feel of home-cooked food made us nostalgic. After the breakfast, we prepared to leave for a visit to the historic city of Pisa. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a tour-guide, who took us through a walking tour of Piazza dei Miracoli and its monuments. The Cathedral, the celebrated Leaning Tower and the round-shaped Baptistery offered a mesmerizing spectacle. Our guided walk then took us to Piazza dei Cavalieri, where we explored Scuola Normale and Conte Ugolino Tower. After a fulfilling day, we retreated to our hotel and retired for the night.
Day 5: Being the merchant of Venice
The next day, we took a train to Venice and reached the hotel around 12. From the train station, we walked down to our hotel La Meridiana, which was a 4 star property adorned with lavish interiors and offered amazing service.
We settled down and got ready for our next round of exploration. We went to the main area of Venice – St. Mark’s Square and roamed around. We were particularly keen on taking the typically Venetian Gondola ride but were discouraged by its price. But luckily, we ran into an Indian family willing to take the same and clubbed with them. As a result, the ride became very cost effective.
Day 6: The Island Trip in Venice
Our second day in Venice was booked for an excursion to the islands of Murano and Burano. The starting point was at an hour’s walk from our hotel, which allowed us to explore the city on foot. Although we were panicking initially, but fortunately, made it on time.
The boat trip took us through secluded islands, featuring calm and colorful scenery. After sailing past the Island of San Giorgio, the public gardens and the tip of Sant’Elena, the boat arrived in Murano — an island famous for its glass manufacturing industry. There, we visited a factory and witnessed a live demo of the production of some glass products. After the tour resumed, we next halted at the picturesque island of Burano, offering a mesmerizing view of the fishermen’s houses painted in bright colors. It was a spellbinding picturesque tour and a must visit.
Day 7: Arrival in the city of love
Now came the time to visit one of the most popular cities of Europe — Paris. Our flight from Venice was a two hour affair and we entered our hotel at around 03:30. The location of the hotel was once again worthy of praise. And one thing that stood out was that, this was the first hotel where drinking water was available for free.
We were to take the full HoHo tour, but, since it was afternoon by the time we settled at the hotel, we could only avail a 2 hour ride. As a result, we were only able to visit the Eiffel tower, the museums around it and got a taste of the nightlife in Paris while watching a laser show.
Day 8: Soaking in the Parisian aura
Paris was yet to be explored. Resuming the HoHo ride, we decided to spend quality time at the destinations that we like, instead of visiting places mindlessly. So, we got down straight at the Eiffel tower and the beautiful places surrounding this most famous tourist attraction in Paris. Lunch was also sorted, thanks to a Chinese restaurant where we found vegetarian noodles.
Day 9: Coming home
Our brief journey had now come to an end and we left for India, with a sea of remembrances.
High Points: My visit to the top of the Eiffel tower amazed me to the core.
Low Point: In Italy the behavior of the staff was not very good, but in France, the people were warm, cooperative and understanding.
Tip to future travelers:
• Even after an hour’s walk it was difficult to come by a washroom in Italy. So be careful.
• Make the best of public transport. It makes you connect better with the place and is not heavy on the pocket.
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