When I was flying to Milan I had to literally pinch myself to believe, that I am going to a foreign land all by myself and living my dream.It was around 11.30 pm when I landed in Milan and divulged myself with some serious pep up talks because I felt a tad bit lost.Amidst all the battles in my head, I saw a young woman walking towards the train station and befriended her. To my surprise, she was warm and very helpful. She expressed, “I will come with you till the hostel and grab a drink. I am very upset coz my best friend has moved to another city.” And that’s how her melancholy saved me the despair of finding my way.The walk towards the hostel was fascinating as all I saw around me were stores thriving to get my attention and at the end of the long stretch was the hostel — Ostello Bello.The moment I set my foot in the hostel, it seemed like I have entered a high-octane resto-pub. The place played electrifying music and I could hear tons of chitter-patter with copious amount of laughter coming from every corner.Amidst all the initial formalities of checking-in, my eyes were searching for my friend (Sigh! Struggling to remember her name). That’s when Helder (from the front desk) said, “Hey! Your friend just went and left you a kiss,” and I couldn’t do much but smile and thank her from all my heart. The ‘happy’ me chit chatted for a while with everyone before calling it a night.Read More
When I was flying to Milan I had to literally pinch myself to believe, that I am going to a foreign land all by myself and living my dream.It was around 11.30 pm when I landed in Milan and divulged myself with some serious pep up talks because I felt a tad bit lost.Amidst all the battles in my head, I saw a young woman walking towards the train station and befriended her. To my surprise, she was warm and very helpful. She expressed, “I will come with you till the hostel and grab a drink. I am very upset coz my best friend has moved to another city.” And that’s how her melancholy saved me the despair of finding my way.The walk towards the hostel was fascinating as all I saw around me were stores thriving to get my attention and at the end of the long stretch was the hostel — Ostello Bello.The moment I set my foot in the hostel, it seemed like I have entered a high-octane resto-pub. The place played electrifying music and I could hear tons of chitter-patter with copious amount of laughter coming from every corner.Amidst all the initial formalities of checking-in, my eyes were searching for my friend (Sigh! Struggling to remember her name). That’s when Helder (from the front desk) said, “Hey! Your friend just went and left you a kiss,” and I couldn’t do much but smile and thank her from all my heart. The ‘happy’ me chit chatted for a while with everyone before calling it a night.
We got off at the Duomo di Milano Church in Milan. Also known as the Milan Cathedral, it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan and also the largest church in Italy. The white marble facade of this huge church makes it a top tourist attraction. You can take the elevator or stairs to get to the top and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
We started the journey from Milan Centrale at about 7:30 AM. It is about 3 hours 5 minutes by the fastest train. The train tickets cost about 67 euros per person each side. Ticket cost varies from 45 euros to 90 euros depending on the time you book.
My trip to Lisbon from Milan was originally planned via Brussels, but due to unexpected circumstances, I found myself crossing over all the way from Liege in Wallonia to Ostend-Bruges in Flanders to catch the last seat in the flight to Lisbon.
Milan to Brussels to Lisbon became: Milan to Liege + over priced Taxi to train station + Train to North Belgium Ostend-Bruges(with help from a nice friendly local who helped me book the tickets at the station without the intention of scamming me) + Bus to the airport + 2 hour wait with loads of travelers in a little airport.
I wont complain much, as not only was I completely refunded for my troubles by Brussels Airlines (Taxi fare + Train tickets + bus ticket), they managed to get me at my final destination comforted with a seat in business class in TAP Airlines (Portuguese Airlines).
Travel Blog Confession: Sold to Portugal after business class upgrade
My first ever Business class trip after literally covering not just a country but en entire continent. Let me explain my complex trip to Portugal.
Milan to Liege (Economic Class Air)
Liege Airport to Train station (Taxi)
Liege Train station to Ostende Bruge city (Train)
Ostende Bruge Train station to Airport (Bus)
Ostende Bruge Airport to Lisbon (Upgraded to Business Class Air)
Starting from the land where they speak Italian to the land of French speaking Belgium. Next, a train to the Dutch speaking part of Belgium to only end up being spoilt by the best of Portuguese air hospitality. The crew of TAP airlines were obliged to treat me special as a Business class passenger. I wonder if they knew that I was upgraded by the awesome staff in Flanders Ostende Airport. They really did their best that busy day.
The funny thing that day was me even attempting a maverick journey like that to travel all across Belgium to catch a flight in time.
Vasco Da Gama would be proud of my Travels
Vasco Da Gama traveled south reaching below the cape of good hope in South Africa before he reached north east of Africa and then to South India while taking help of the ruler of Malindi (present day Kenya) and the great Arab navigator Ahmed Ibn Majid, to show the explorers the route to India.
Mean while , I found myself reaching Liege and taking the help of a cool Arab Taxi driver who helped me quite a bit in realizing that Ostend- Bruges was actually all across the other end of the country and that it would be better and cheaper if I juts took the train from the train station.
He did that speaking in French to some one who has a real tough time saying Bonjour and always prefers to say Ciao with a wink. He did try to over price me though and but was quite easily prepared to bring down the amount upon me bargaining like a typical Indian.
Our conversation reminiscent of conversation between the great explorers, navigators and sea faring merchants of that time who would often hang around India, Indonesia, Persian gulf or across the sandy beaches of east Africa.
A trip to the National Museum in Rome would enlighten me of the historical Roman trade with many Indian ports and beyond that was thriving until the demise of the great empire.
Landing in Portugal on a busy weekend night
Lisbon had great vibes. I love coastal cities, they are always special. Maybe the influx of people over ages brings all the coolest people over to a coastal port city. Wading through the busy evening streets, we find ourselves in a little street with history written all over it. Our Airbnb hostess invites us to climb up 3 storeys on wooden steps that seemed to belong in one of Vasco Da Gama's old ships.
I gasped for my breath as I carried our week long luggage across the tiny wooden steps. Had to climb three floors to finally reach our beautiful little Portuguese apartment. Our Airbnb landlady would further entertain us with an introduction to Lisbon city and Portuguese culture. Like a typical coastal nation citizen, she takes out an old paper map. As she reads out some Portuguese names of the areas around, we get interested and take notes. The next day you would find me jumping in joy around the coast. I was absolutely loving my holiday in a country which helped make Goa fun.
Lisbon fever: Love at first sight
We took the city sightseeing bus service that would play beautiful fado music while educating us about Lisbon. I was awestruck listening about its glorious history on top of the bus. Walking across Lisbon was great fun. Paradise is sunny weather and regular supply of Codfish Cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau).
Do click on the link to the have a glimpse of this Portuguese delight. I had actually tried it at this very place on the link. The perfect brown fish cutlet is filled with melted cheese and has to be eaten with care.
You fall in love instantaneously with Lisbon, while sipping wine on a disposable "I Love Lisbon" wine glass at the Torre de Belem.
Strolling across the Bairro Alto or the upper neighborhood/district, you can find the best food at the best price. Just make sure to avoid the tourist traps. By tourist traps, I refer to those unscrupulous businesses that exist all around the world. Usually near the perpetual tourist attractions. Intending to only benefit from a location but not to deliver in terms of value. The rent could be high or the motivation to meet a threshold to have customers may be low.
Soon we would find the best places as we dine with old friends in Lisbon. Later we would eat the best frango and wine near the train station at faro completely based on a intuitive hunch. Not always do you enter a place to be completely blown away with the service, quality and value. I discovered loads of trattoria in Italy where you can end up having a really good meal at lunch time at a great price.
Two of the most successful football clubs of Italy – Internazionale FC and AC Milan – still play their home matches in the very same stadium. If you're looking for return on investment on your travelling, this is the perfect place.Famous footballers to have played here: Paolo Maldini, Javier Zanetti, Luiz Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo, Kaka.Things to do apart from football: Visit the Sforza Castle to check out medieval art treasures. Shop for the best fashion at Galleria Vittorio.Average expenditure per day per head: Rs. 4,500Book the best hotels.Read more about the city.
The best thing that could have happened during an otherwise uneventful summer vacation was our Italian holiday. Though short-lived, those seven days will forever remain etched in our memories. Planned on the spur of a moment, my three boys (the eldest, being my husband) and I eagerly looked forward to visiting Italy – a land of history, romance, wine, pasta and home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We booked our tickets on Qatar Airways , applied for our Italian visas which we got in a week’s time and kept counting days and finally hours.Day of travel: Sunday, 3rd July, 2016With the commencement of the summer holidays and Eid Al-Fitr just round the corner, we expected a very crowded airport. But what awaited us there was way beyond our imagination. We boarded our 4:40 flight to Doha at 5:40. Desperately we prayed we wouldn’t miss our 7:00 connection flight to Milan. Unfortunately, the 7 o’ clock flight departed leaving us at Doha. We were rebooked for the afternoon flight and landed at Milan Malpensa International Airport at around 20:40. I've heard that the sun sets late in these European countries but to experience it first hand was indeed ethereal. At 20:40 in Milan, the sun had just begun its official descend.
9 | LAKE Como + SWISS ALPSFly into Milan and hop the train towards George Clooney’s stunning stomping grounds – Lake Como. Not much beats the picture perfect scene of the bright blue lake with pastel lake villages below the snow-capped Alps. For easy train connections, stay in Varenna for a few days but be sure to take the ferry to nearby Bellagio. After gorging on pasta and wine, head north into the Alps to St. Moritz for fantastic hiking in the summer or world-class skiing in the winter.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.Read More
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.
Day 7: Next day we moved to Zurich as next we had early morning flight for Mumbai from Zurich Airport. So, in short we had only few hours to explore Zurich .After hotel check-in we left for Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe.The view was mesmerizing. Bought some chocolates and souvenirs there and left for Zurich old market. We reached bit late as all shops get closed by 7 in the evening. Enjoyed coffee and evening life of Zurich.Roamed around the streets,cafe and market with closed shops :( by the lake side. After sunset reached back to Hotel, had dinner and did packing as we were suppose to leave early morning to catch our flight.
We started from Zurich at 9:30 in the morning, bypassing through a few smaller towns and a conduit of ever impressive highways, before reaching our first stop at the town of Luzern. And it turned out to be one of those picturesque ancient towns, I definitely did not want to miss on during my visit to Switzerland.
This exciting city should be at the center of every Swiss Itinerary. Its suave views, glittering skyscapers and art galleries adhere well to the Swiss standards. The city, crowned by the Alps, won't let you off without some great memories.
3 | Geneva + Interlaken + LUCERNE + ZurichArrival in French-styled Geneva, seated on Europe’s largest glacier lake, visitors are immediately struck by the clarity of the crystal clear waters. The lingering Alps reflected brightly off the lake while Geneva vies as one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities. Move on to Interlaken and Lucerne for everything from hiking in the Alps, ski diving to chocolate tasting. Ideal for outdoor and photography lovers. By train, Geneva to Interlaken: 4hr 30 min then Interlaken by way of Lucerne to Zurich: 2 hr 46 min.
19:00 h. Zurich – Dinner in the restaurant of your choice. Transfer to hotel about 22 hrs.Total distance: 690 kmScenery: Lakes and mountains in Switzerland. Note: We enter France, remember to have your passport ready.07:30 h. – Zurich – Departure.09:00 h. – Berna – Arrival-. Free time in the Swiss capital which has an attractive historical centre with the appearance of a “large village”. We will visit the Federal Council Square, the Cathedral and the Clock Tower, and see the city’s statues and fountains.11:00 h. – Berne – Departure-. View of Neuchatel Lake. We cross the Free Country amidst beautiful scenery. After crossing the French border we will stop for dinner in a service area.
Geneva is globally known for being the headquarters of the mighty United Nations. But, the city's vintage charm, eloquent looks and bubbling energy will not only help you relax but live life at large.Read More
I am not a huge fan of one day trips, however, you make the best of what you get. Here's how I spent my last weekend, a full day taking in the beautiful sights of Geneva. Here is a Be For Beauty special on how to spend a day in gorgeous Geneva: things to do, lots of photos, places to see and of course, travel tips that'll help you.