24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels...

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Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana

I've been meaning to write down my travel chronicles for quite some time. I do post a few pictures of my trips on my Instagram page (go check it out!), but have never written about them. So what changed?

2017 has been an incredible year where I got the chance to travel a LOT, both at home and abroad. Luckily, I get to travel abroad (Europe) a bit for work. I usually utilize my weekends off to visit interesting places near my base city. Within India, I look out for flight sales and long weekends. These allow me to optimize my time and money (or both!). I have become somewhat of a travel addict, and if I may confess, my job gives me the necessary financial independence to pack my bags and go on my next big adventure! Sometimes, balancing work with my travel aspirations can be a bit tricky; but its manageable and in the end, highly rewarding.

So, I felt that I really must write about all my experiences, and if I can provide any tips/ideas to my fellow-travellers, well...so much the better! Here goes...

JANUARY

Ajanta-Ellora-Aurangabad-Lonar Crater Lake

While Ajanta and Ellora were amazing beyond expectation, we saw a lot of other monuments like the Daulatabad Fort, Aurangzeb's Tomb, Bibi Ka Maqbara. The surprise highlights were the Lonar Lake-a meteorite impact crater and Daitya Sudan temple.

Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debadrita Jana

Jaipur Literature Festival, Hawa Mahal, City Palace Jaipur, Chand Baori, Bhangarh Fort

I had dreamt of attending the Jaipur Literature Festival for several years, and finally I got the chance to go! I attended sessions by prominent authors like Devdutt Pattnaik, William Dalrymple, SHASHI THAROOR(!). I had some extra time, and visited the old pink city, the Hawa Mahal and the breathtaking Chand Baori stepwell, as well as the (not so haunted at daytime) Bhangarh Fort. (Unfortunately, I lost most of the pictures from this trip, only the ones I had put up on Facebook remain...)

Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana

Kochi, Kochi-Muzhiris Biennale,Aleppey, Thekkady, Idukki dam

Kerala is truly God's Own Country. The beaches along the Kochi-Alleppey Route are free of crowds and spectacular. I attended Kathakali and Kalaripayattu shows and was duly amazed. NOTE: Check for the timings/entrance routes to Idukki as it is a restricted area, and the Mulliperiyar reservoir in Thekkady is best explored by boat. Book the trips in advance, online or from the booking office in Thekkady, and then queue up early in the morning at the boat house to begin your trip!

Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana

FEBRUARY

Northern Lights and Arctic Circle: Stockholm, Sweden; Kiruna, Sweden; Rovaniemi, Finland; Narvik, Norway, Lofoten Islands, Norway

This was truly the trip of a lifetime! I experienced temperatures as low as 20 degrees below o, breathtaking landscapes carved by ancient glaciers, a vast wilderness covered with snow; and of course the Aurora Borealis... The dramatic fjords of Norway were carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age (read about it here) , and the entire region is still rebounding from the enormous weight of the ice that melted as earth entered a warmer period. Tip: A drive through the icy roads of the Lofoten Islands is an amazing, and slightly terrifying experience...

Photo of Rovaniemi, Finland by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana
Photo of 24 Trips in One Year! How 2017 Was My Year of Travels... by Debadrita Jana

MARCH

Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Monaco

By March, my work took me to Europe for a couple of months. Making full use of my Schengen visa, I used my weekends to travel to as many places as possible. The road trip along the along turquoise-blue ocean and the luxurious villas certainly did not disappoint! The Picasso museum at Antibes is a must-visit. It's also possible to take a train along the French riviera and move into Italy.

Photo of French Riviera, France by Debadrita Jana
Photo of French Riviera, France by Debadrita Jana
Photo of French Riviera, France by Debadrita Jana
Photo of French Riviera, France by Debadrita Jana
Photo of French Riviera, France by Debadrita Jana

Budapest is as pretty as a picture, especially since I visited at a time when the harsh winter was giving way to spring. Other than the usual sights, I strongly recommend visiting the iconic ruin bars (Szimpla!!) and thermal baths, as well as a tram ride on the Route No. 2 past the grand, illuminated Parliament at night (I missed it...too many parties ). A walking tour is also recommended-it tells you a lot about the history of Hungary through the centuries.

Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Debadrita Jana

Triberg, Gengenbach

A fairytale land by all counts-the black forest is said to have inspired the Brothers Grimm. There are several picturesque villages, and other popular destinations include Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Karlsruhe. The wood carvers of this area produce exquisite carvings as well as cuckoo clocks. Also, you would be surprised to know that the Black Forest cake has LARGE quantities of liquor in it!

Photo of Black Forest, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Black Forest, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Black Forest, Germany by Debadrita Jana

APRIL

Athens, Delphi, Santorini

Time to go back to India, but not before soaking in the sun in this spectacular nation! Greece has the perfect mix of nature and history...and it's quite affordable too! Athens has spectacular beaches, and of course, thousands of years of history. The nightlife is pretty good too, and I highly recommend the Plaka area, as well as a bar called Brettos(I visited thrice in 3 days). The geologist in me did a back-flip while exploring the volcanic island of Santorini. On a different note, I was struck by the number of stray cats roaming the streets and countryside, and couldn't help but wonder how they sustained themselves during the winters...

Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Greece by Debadrita Jana

MAY

Back home! This time. a leave combined with a weekend look me to the BR Hills, where the Eastern and Western Ghats meet. The serene hills are dotted with villages and homestays, and it's possible to see wild elephants and varieties of deer, monkeys and Gaur(refer to the very hazy picture!). There are also 15+ tigers in the area. There is a beautiful Tibetan settlement and Monastery at Dhondenling, about 2 hours drive from the hills...

Photo of B R Hills, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of B R Hills, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of B R Hills, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of B R Hills, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of B R Hills, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana

The natural beauty of Kodaikanal is striking, especially after a spell of showers. The main sights can be covered in a day, leaving a lot of time for, well-relaxation. There are several nice, animal-friendly cafes here as well! Far from the crowds of Kodai, Vattakanal is another near-untouched but fast-developing area, with steep hills and waterfalls... Visit the super-chill Altaf Cafe there!

Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Debadrita Jana

JUNE

Shillong,Cherrapunji, Dawki, Guwahati

My first trip to the North-east!!! This part of India is so serene and beautiful, with a rich and distinct culture... Meghalaya truly is the "abode of the clouds", and roads seem to float above the heavens. Try the local cuisine, especially pork and the delicious pineapples. Shillong has several cafes, including the newly opened Dylan's Cafe; as well as a vibrant music scene. This was a trip with my parents, which made it quite special. What would I not do to go back!

Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Meghalaya, India by Debadrita Jana

This area is perhaps best known for the Nandi Hills. But there are a few other interesting places in and around this famous hill, such as the 9th Century Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple and Avalabetta Hilltop...You can even venture along a not-so-good road to see the giant monolithic bull, Nandi, from which the famous hillock gets its name. All you need for an eventful day trip! Note: The photograph of the temple is taken from here.

Photo of Chikballapur, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Chikballapur, Karnataka, India by Debadrita Jana

JULY

Anyone living in the southern parts of the country MUST have Munnar on their list for a long weekend. Easily accessible from most major cities, this beautiful hill station is a study in the different shades of green... From here, one can see the highest peak in South India-Anamudi. Munnar has the highest tea gardens in the world, the Kolukkumalai Tea Estates. A jeep safari is highly recommended! You can also purchase high-quality Ayurvedic products and gardens from any of the shops here.

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Debadrita Jana

AUGUST

This time work took me to the bustling oil town of Aberdeen for a while. While the city built of grey granite is unique if somewhat monochromatic, the nearby countryside is absolutely stunning. While I was not glued to my workstation, I was getting mesmerised by castles, beaches, rainbows and seals...

Photo of Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana

SEPTEMBER

Having encountered London in almost every other novel or movie, I was really excited to be finally visiting the city. Coincidentally, I landed in London and made my way to King's Cross Station on September 1st, 2017-which is exactly when the last chapter from Harry potter takes place! QUITE the fan moment! Apart from the usual touristy stuff, a visit to the museum of Natural History is highly recommended (it's free!) I also visited 221B Baker street to pay homage to Holmes and Watson :)

Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of London, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana

Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands (Stirling, Fort William, Fort Augustus, Glencoe, Inverness, Aviemore)

Edinburgh is like an open-air museum. No amount of pictures can do justice to this place...I would recommend taking a walking tour and visiting the historical pubs in the city. And the Scottish Highlands are living proof of why Scotland was voted the most beautiful Country in the world in 2017...

Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana

Den Haag, Delft, Gouda, Utrecht, Groningen (my current home), Amsterdam (New Year's Eve), Kinderdijk

Later this month, I would move to the Netherlands where I would spend the rest of the year and some months in 2018. I have always loved the picturesque cities with canals, the rich artistic history and the international outlook of this country, and plan to write a comprehensive guide to visiting the Netherlands someday!

Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana
Photo of The Netherlands by Debadrita Jana

OCTOBER

I visited the University town of Oxford in October, and it was quite an amazing experience. The colleges look more like fairytale castles, and several scenes of the Harry Potter movies were shot/inspired by them...I even saw people playing Quidditch in the University Parks!

Photo of Oxford, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Oxford, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Oxford, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Oxford, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Oxford, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana

As my UK visa was about to expire, I went to Northern Ireland to tick of one place from my geological bucket list-the Giant's Causeway. Add to that some mind-boggling scenery, Game of Thrones shooting locations, rich history, the Titanic, GREAT pubs and some lovely, warm and caring people....I loved Belfast!

Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Belfast, United Kingdom by Debadrita Jana

NOVEMBER

This was my first trip to Poland, and I got really cheap flights (INR 1600 for the round trip) from Groningen! I was amazed by Gdansk's beautiful old town and the important place in Polish history. This shows just how much we learn when we travel... The second World War as well as Poland's solidarity movement started here. Also, it's really quite cheap and the food is amazing! Highlight of the trip? Meeting two Finnish sisters on a pirate boat (now a bar) who were die-hard fans of the movie Lagaan!!! I aslo visited the nearby towns of Sopot, Oliwa and Malbork Castle.

Photo of Gdańsk, Poland by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Gdańsk, Poland by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Gdańsk, Poland by Debadrita Jana

I have a fascination for grand churches, and Cologne's great cathedral was always on my list. My friend took me on a day trip to this wonderful riverside city, which is also the birthplace of the famous Eu-de-Cologne...

Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Cologne, Germany by Debadrita Jana

Cathedrals again! The Duomo di Milano is the second largest church in Europe, a truly marvelous structure. Milan as a whole has innumerable cathedrals and museums (including Da Vinci's "The Last Supper"), and need I say anything about the shopping scene? I also visited the nearby Lake Como and it's Christmas Market.

Photo of Milan, Italy by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Milan, Italy by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Milan, Italy by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Milan, Italy by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Milan, Italy by Debadrita Jana

DECEMBER

By now, the Christmas mood had set in, and I headed out to Bremen for a day trip at it's famous Christmas market. What I saw was a true feast for the eyes, and an amazing way to experience a different culture. I went crazy buying pretty gifts and drinking Gluhwein (mulled wine) and exploring the picturesque Schnoor area.

Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Bremen, Germany by Debadrita Jana

Salzburg-St. Gilgen-Strobl-Hallstatt-Alpbach-Rattenberg-Innsbruck

The last trip of the year, for which I had high hopes. And it was amazing! Austria has the perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, and is affordable too! I visited a winter wonderland, but summer landscapes are stunning as well.

Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana
Photo of Austria by Debadrita Jana

NOTE: I say that " I travelled", but in reality, it was never me alone. There were people who gave me tips, helped me plan, colleagues who covered for me when I was on leave, friends who drove me to places (by some miracle-I don't have any other word to describe it- I never learnt to drive), bought tickets for me in advance, parents who trusted me to take care of myself, non-geologist friends who put up with my insistence on visiting natural history museums/geological "wonders"/other places of relative non-interest for them. There were strangers who became friends and globe-trotters-in-arms, and countless random people who reminded me that I have dropped my glove/camera bag/hat/scarf/insert random object. Thanks to all of them, 2017 was awesome indeed!

Hope you enjoyed this piece, and got a few ideas for your next trip!

Feel free to message me for details!

2 Comment(s)
Sort by:
long post yet well written.
Tue 01 16 18, 11:36 · Reply · Report
Austria looks so wonderful..
Wed 01 10 18, 19:51 · Reply (1) · Report
It is!!! :) :)
Thu 01 11 18, 02:48 · Report
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