Europe Solo Trip

Europe


I promised myself a Europe trip at the start of 2017. After brainstorming for 2-3 months I decided to go ahead with the plan. Europe is very vast thus deciding on places to cover is challenging. There is so much to see in so limited time; shortlisting on destinations becomes that more difficult.After much of a research, I decided to cover three places in this trip. All these cities are world class & attracts millions of tourists each year.

This will be a brief writeup. I will go further in the details in coming blog posts. This is just an overview to roll the dice. Stay connected to read about my experiences. Hit Subscription button at the bottom of the page to stay in touch with my latest posts.

Planning

Depending upon number of places & amount that I can spend. I needed to shortlist on the destination. After thinking for two months roughly. I shortlisted three location which I wanted to visit which were AMSTERDAM, PARIS & BARCELONA. Once the destinations were freezed it was now turn for duration. I planned for 11 days to cover all these places. Europe is a costly affair & deciding on budget was another fight. After factoring in every aspect, I decided to keep my budget for the trip under 1 Lac rupees which shall include everything.

Flight Tickets

I started looking for cheapest flights from India to Europe. It took me roughly 2 months to set permutation & combination.(The things we do to keep the cost low :P) I checked on various arrival & departure cities. I used to browse in Skyscanner daily to get the best deal.The best deal I got was from Mumbai to Amsterdam & Barcelona to Mumbai for 40K INR roughly. I used my credit card to make the payment as it offered me an EMI option, which was a relief. It's always a nervous feeling while booking a ticket, as there is no certainity of VISA. However, booking flight is the first step to get into the groove of things. My heart started beating fast at the time of booking.(There is always something in mind which shouts something will go wrong), killing my urges I booked the tickets. Once tickets are done it was time for the next step.Booking hostels.

Amount Paid For Flights: Approx 40K

Stay

Usually the hotels & hostels in Europe are costlier than rest of the world.The best way to keep price down is by staying at youth hostels or using couchsurfing. I use booking.com because of it's easy interface. There are many websites similar to booking.com like hostel world & agoda. However, booking.com gives the most transparent costing. I used booking.com for all my bookings till date. Also I have witnessed are few hidden components which only come into limelight once you are about to make payment on other websites. Thus, I rely mainly on booking.com. I had a friend in Amsterdam thus my staying at Amsterdam was free (Lucky to have friends at such an expensive places). However, there are few youth hostels in Amsterdam which are an awesome place to be in. One of which is stayokay hostels. In Paris, I booked the cheapest hostel available. I was trying for couchsurfing. However, I was not successful in finding the same. I booked hostel in Paris for 24 Euros for a day which was not upto the standard, but for the price it was decent. In Barcelona I had booked Center Ramblas which was located at the heart of Barcelona. Center Ramblas has a decent rating & price was very affordable. Thus, I booked without giving any other thoughts.

Amount Paid For Staying: Paris : 24 Euros & Barcelona: 84 Euros (2.5 Euros Touristic charge which I paid at the hostel).

Visa

Visa process is a scary one atleast it is for me. Like China Europe also has few pre requisite to comply to. The process is easy however if something is missed it can be a huge roadblock in getting a Visa. I did everything required & applied for the appointment in Mumbai. At the time of appointment I submitted my documents & gave biometric (mandatory for EU visa) & hoped for the best. The whole process took 2 hours.

Total Amount Paid For Visa: 80 Euros (Including VFS charges & few extra services)
Till the time, I didn't get the visa it was a nervous outing. Somewhere back in the mind constant fear of not getting visa was running through my mind. I tried to keep my self composed. However, the fear keeps creeping back. I heard that first time solo travelers are called for a personal interview. But, that is on random basis. After applying for visa I got a call from the embassy. It was regarding my application.

They said, "You need to come to Delhi for a personal interview."

I was surprised as usually it doesn't happen. I searched & found first time solo travelers are called for a face to face interview.

Quickly, I booked a train ticket to Delhi. Flight tickets were too costly. I booked Rajdhani due to time constraints. I reached Delhi & went for an interview. The interview was simple they only asked what was asked in the visa application form. I answered all there queries. Once the interview was over I made a long stressful journey back to Mumbai.

Waiting eagerly for my reply I used to check my mails every three or four hours. Then on 4th May I received an email stating my passport has been dispatched. My heart started beating fast. I tried to listen to songs or indulge in some activity. However, I was not able to control my head. On the next day I got courier. I opened the package & pffffff.
Here it was. A schengen visa on my passport. Finally I could breath normally. My mind relaxed & happy thoughts of traveling to three cities came into my mind.

After recieving visa. It was time to start packing & just explore the place. My travel dates were from 10th June to 21st June. Still more than 1 month to go.

The Journey

My flight was at 1:30 Am. Checked in (now I find it easier to check-in in airports. Thanks to my previous trips :D). I was flying above brussels in the morning. The first sight I saw was lush green landscapes & in between the landscapes there were few houses & for an Indian standard it was seriously few. I had a connecting flight from Brussels to Amsterdam. Atleast this was what I thought. But, while checking in Mumbai the lady told me Sir you have train booking from Brussels to Amsterdam & I was like it is written air ticket. So, at Brussels I needed to get my luggage & again check-in for Amsterdam flight. I landed at 7:30 am & my so called second flight was at 9:21 am.

I took my luggage & looked for my flight number which was not showing on the big screen. So decided to check with Brussels Airline counter if the ticket is flight ticket or a train ticket. They checked & after 10 long minutes the answer I got was Sir, it's a train ticket. I rushed toward the train station which is at -1 level at Brussels Airport. I went to the ticket window & showed him the print out of my ticket.

The guy asked me, "Where is your checkin copy?".

I said, "I didn't know that I needed to check in online."

The guy was like, "Ohhh, Maamaa" you need to do this, we are not here for this. From next time tell your operators to check in for you..

He was frustated, but I had a smirk on my face reason being the accent with which he said "Ohhh Mamma"

Amsterdam

I reached Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam). The airport is like a big mall. Different shops hardly any security. I went straight to Iamamsterdam outlet to get my kit (an Iamamsterdam city card). This card is very help ful. As this gives free acess to public transports & also free enteries to muesuems.

Amsterdam is very clean there is no dust may be due to moisture in air. The sky seems to few minutes away. The sky is perfect canvas. The canals are beautiful. Most of the canals runs in the central part of Amsterdam. There were peoples but not noisy like India. Everyone was quiet & self focussed. The best way to roam around Amsterdam is through cycles. But, make sure you have a calf muscles to support those cycling expedition. I stayed for 5 days in Amsterdam & did most of things that I could or was interested in doing. After Amsterdam my next stop was Paris. I chose to travel by Bus from Amsterdam to Paris as I wanted to witness the majestic landscapes. There are many buses running daily. The time taken by bus is 6 hours. But, while traveling through beautiful landscapes 6 hours doesn't seems to be that big.
The best way to roam around the Amsterdam is by using city cards. They help in keeping overall cost down & also, saves a lot of time.
Amsterdam Canals
I Amsterdam City Card

Paris

Paris is a vintage city. To see 19th century architect is a soulful experience.The place is constantly on it feets. Paris is a romentic city & it can only be experienced. There are no amount of words which can justify its originality & aura. There is history behind this place & also many stories. The most talked about place in Paris is Eiffel Tower & trust me it is nothing like what you see in photos. It is much more grand & beautiful with naked eye. I stared the tower for atleast 2 hours. It is so beautiful site to watch. People around EU are cold & this is shared by many traveler. I too found that it was so in Paris as well. People in general were not warm & welcoming. I spent one day in Paris (I know it's just a stop one day is not enough here for sure).

After Paris it was time for Barcelona. I took a bus from Paris to Barcelona with the stop at Lyon (a small town in France). Little did I know that the small town was very beautiful. It is a small place & can be covered in bicycle. Beautifully built this place was a surprise package for me. This place is perfect small city. A big garden, canal & perfect infrastructure & plesant environment was the characterstics of the town.
Eiffel Tower Mark My Adventure
Eiffel night view
Below is the direct link to the site where you can buy city cards & guided. These are not essential while traveling. However, this is perfect if you are interested in extra knowledge. The insight that we get on these tours are not taught anywhere. Thus, if you are interested in some of these tours feel free to buy them from here.

Barcelona

Barcelona aura has rised in last 20 years. The place is located on a sea shore & also don the architect which is hard to match. This catalunya city is perfect for a young crowd. The city is much more like Bangkok. The young crowd & insane partying practice makes this place a perfect getaway. Usually, there are streets in city. But, I feel there is city in streets in Barcelona. It is an amazing journey to cover city streets. Barcelona is much more warm & welcoming then other EU countries. The climate will suit Indian's alot as it is mostly hot & warm. The only beach is too crowded with tourists.Parties are very vibrant & not to be missed.

It is always best to complete tour with a beach city. I try to chose this way only because nothing is more mesmerizing & amazing then sitting on a beach in the evening with a view unending sea & flash of memories you created during this trip. Evenings in Europe are also very late. I witnessed sunsets at 9:30 pm (Dinner time in India).
Barcalona Panaromic View Mark My Adventure
Sangrada Familia Barcelona Mark My Adventure
Barcelona is not a big city. However, it is of decent size. If city exploration is the motive then opt for city cards. This is the best way to explore the city. I bought city card from Barcelona.de. There are many options to buy cards. Below is the direct link to the same.
In this post. I breifly covered the topic infact very breifly. However, this is just the start in coming posts I will cover each & every details of my journey with the experiences I had.

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