Every year, without fail, a few months before the next year’s May, my internet usage shoots the roof. That’s because, for 6 to 9 months at least, I’m researching heavily on the upcoming trip. Thank heavens for wifi and Jio, so that my net costs don’t equal my trip costs.
This year, like all previous others, the first hurdles to cross were country of destination and avoidance of Kesari tours and travels. The supramajor hurdles actually. The second was the easier one. It needed the “hands on hips, head on one side, teeth set firmly, NO,” to be said to hubby, multiple times, almost daily with a clear emphasis on the NO. Sometimes with foot-stamping and teeth-gritting too.
The bigger hurdle, and the omnipresent one, was the destination. I had (dumbly) thought it would be easy. You see, last year in 2017, when we planned Sikkim, the hubby dearest had promised a European destination for 2018 and had agreed to Italy, destination of choice for kid and me. So in my mind, it was sorted. Sadly only in my mind. After I’d looked up travel tickets, cities, towns and fishing villages galore, and had my brains ring with visions of me skipping along the poppy fields of Tuscany and dancing amidst the cypress trees, the hubby charmingly said, “NO. ” In pretty much my own tone with pretty much my expression. Reason: “We can’t go to a country on the other side of the same sea that we’ve already been to.”
Pretty pricey coming from a man who has been thrice to Goa, thrice to Mahabaleshwar and stayed at the same resort, 40 times to Lonavala, etc. Back to the drawing board, I turned for help to my one-man-travel advisor, Yogesh Shenoy, and asked for alternatives. Anything near any Mediterranean Sea was forbidden, as was any place with red/ brown roofs. Since I was left with so many options, I considered the first suggestion he made of Amsterdam, Brussels and Bruges. It certainly looked charming but the thought of all those fries, waffles and Belgian chocolates scared me (and my hips) a bit ( a lot), and I asked for more ideas. So Yogesh suggested Germany. And I thought, “Good Lord, he’s sending vegetarian teetotaler girl to meat and beer land with nothing to see but factories and the black forest.” After all, the only bit of Germany that Kesari et al knew was Triberg and cuckoo clock land and the only thing I knew was BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Volkswagen land. Naturally I didn’t consider it worth the effort. “Nope,” I said to Yogesh. He sent me a list of cities and said, “just Google these.” That’s how I opened stock photographs of Neuschwanstein and Rothenberg and Mittenwald and was hooked.
Hooked and how. Bavaria became the new Italy. Even when I realised that we would be traveling in the beginning of may in the freezing cold and the rain. Even when I suggested a reroute to Italy as it was more southern and hence warmer. Once I saw the images (especially of the Bavarian hill towns), I wanted to go there. Good for me, good for hubby. Win win for all.
Once the country was fixed as Germany, the greater part of the nitpicking had to start. Which town, how to get there, how to travel from one place to another, etc. And of course, the big question, how much money to carry, for which I had to know every attraction we would see and the exact cost of each. And do all this research by myself as hubby wasn’t going to help. Not that I’m complaining, I enjoy the manjan, but a little help is always helpful.
That little (read lots of) help came from Yogesh. To the extent that I have gone to these places physically and Yogesh has travelled metaphorically…so thanks a lot Yogesh. We sure owe you one. Actually, two, three, four, five…..as the kid pointed out.
So after deciding basics like Munich, Romantic Road and Rothenburg, one hillside town and Berlin (the most historic of all), we set about planning the nitty gritty details and looking for cheap tickets. Yogesh then suggested dropping Berlin and going to Salzburg instead, and introduced me to the Grossglockner high alpine road. Goodbye Berlin, some other day maybe.
I asked the hubby time and again if he’d drive. We had thoroughly enjoyed the drive in Croatia and I was keen on repeating it. Also the smaller towns of Bavaria weren’t very easily doable by public transport. Note that the romantic road is a road, not a track. Most of all, I knew the husband’s reluctance to drag the bags about by trains and could see the problems there. Hence the need for the road trip. Naturally the Grossglockner road needed a car. So the itinerary got planned brilliantly by car. The tickets suddenly got affordable and I quickly booked the tickets in the dead of the night. Yaaaaayyyy. We were going to go to Bavaria and Austria.
Oh my God! Had I written the correct names on the tickets? This was my greatest fear when I woke up in the morning. The nutter that I am, I was terrified that I’d spelled the names wrong, or worse, written my maiden name by mistake (like I did for all the hotel bookings without bothering to remember that my passport was with the hubby’s name.) Note for future: Get all documents rectified to maiden name.
Next step: Hotels, distribution of days, purchase of Rick Steve’s Germany and Salzburg book. All of which took one week. And of course, there had to be the requisite excitement. The hubby read reviews of car rentals and said that car driving was a bad move and to cancel the car plan. “What?” I exclaimed. This was an itinerary made for the drive. It would be very challenging to do this by public transport as all the towns were poorly connected. They would need many train and or bus changes. Nor would we be able to drive the “roads” of the trip. Now I was really bugged.
That’s when the smart kid told me that I should drive if the hubby wouldn’t. That would have worked out better because then we could have stopped everywhere I wanted to stop, and the hubby could have rested his frozen shoulder. Anyways, the kid’s suggesting the change of driver goaded the hubby into agreeing to drive, though once a fortnight he’d go bonkers and refuse to drive, even on the eve of the trip. Lesson learnt: pay the money for the car right at the start. The numbers of train and bus connections I have researched have made me capable of redesigning the German public transport website myself.
Changes kept happening almost till the end, like switching the apartment at Füssen to a lake view apartment at a nearby lake; and adding Hallstatt to the itinerary (which got done too late to stay there, but it merits at least 1 night). But such fun is part of the trip. Oh and emailing all the hotels to change the names of the travellers.
As the days approached, it was time to finish the last-minute essential shopping of warm clothes. I’d already taken a lot of my sister’s stuff, yet I knew huge costs were up ahead. So we headed to decathlon where I bought water proof shoes and a fabulous fuchsia waterproof jacket , having frozen in Slovenia earlier. Please note: that by Murphy’s law, as I had adequate rain gear this time, it didn’t rain at all.
Packing, hair and face care, beauty rituals and clothes shopping were all left to the last few days before the trip as I had holidays for 4 days before going. And what did Murphy do? He sent my beloved sister with her adorable kid just before my trip. Whilst it felt like Diwali and Christmas come early, I sure couldn’t finish any of my work.
Yet, things have a way of working themselves out (Murphy must have been asleep), and we managed to get things together. Last minute packing finally done, we left for our trip amidst my usual panic episodes of flight fears and the lack of anxiolytic medication. It didn’t help that just 5 days ago, a plane had an engine blow out and a lone woman died. Not a helpful bit of information considering my aviophobia. Now it was possible that everyone wouldn’t die together or altogether, the only fact I was consoling myself with.
Needless to say, hubby and kid were super cool. I was the only stressed one, about the flight, the trip, the car, the money, the rain, the sun. To sum up, everything. Lesson learnt: travel by Kesari next time!
A very very big thank you to Yogesh Shenoy, without whom this trip would not have been possible. The hubby for the company, the drive and of course, the constant emotional rollercoaster he led me on. Most of all, the kid for her endless support, UN role as peacekeeper, the neverending chatter and the editing of the blog.