Last year on June 13, I set out for my first real trip abroad. The other one, in September 2015 to Dubai, was not very special. To me, Dubai seemed just like Mumbai, only cleaner and bigger and warmer. I wanted to travel solo and backpack across Europe. But some 'well-wishers' insisted that the world is "big and bad, and although you may also be big and bad but you are 'still' a 'woman'! so it's not safe for you to travel alone, especially in Europe". What I wanted to ask them is once you have lived in Delhi and other cities like Delhi, can ANY PLACE in the world seem dangerous?!
But you err on the side of caution, and so did I, and booked my 21-day trip across all of western Europe with a leading tour operator. The entire tour was meticulously-planned, the food was good, the hotels fine and there was a coach to take us around. There was just one glitch. I was travelling alone but the rest of the tour group was made up of families. No one else was alone. That made things very interesting :P I won't be travelling with families again, that's for sure. :P
The flight from Delhi to London was lonnnng....and the queues at Immigration seemed even longer. It was raining as I left Heathrow Terminal to wait for the tour coach. Outside, there were long steel bridges, men in dark coats and a grey sky packed with rain clouds. The next morning, the tour coach took us to Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Madame Tussaud's Museum and Lord's Cricket Ground. Trafalgar Square bustles with a special energy and the experience stays with you forever, I think. Next stop was Madame Tussaud's Museum of wax statues, where I posed with James Bond, Hrithik Roshan and other hunks. There are former heads of state, filmstars, rock legends and royalty. Princess Diana stands alone in the centre of a room and the rest of the royal family looks on. All wax statues, all of them.
Then it was off to Lord's cricket grounds, with its aura of having been an important witness to cricketing history and an adjoining delightful museum with a dead sparrow preserved in a glass case. That sparrow had somehow been 'killed' by a fast ball...! After spending a couple of days in the UK, and then crossing the English Channel by ferry from Dover, I landed in Calais after leaving London and the UK behind.