Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip

Tripoto
17th Jul 2019

Standing in front of Lake Trubsee,Titlis Region

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Prologue ::

Be it the evergreen DDLJ or Zoya Akhter's cult - ZNMD, the spectrum is wide and varied, although, one common thread that holds the beads together is display of an alluring European locations at the backdrop, a sight to behold to,more so, in a country swayed away by the bollywood frenzy.

It is incontrovertible that the advent of social networking or internet per se has brought forth a paradigm shift in travelling landscape.It is no longer the story of a Richie-rich but a common man/woman can also be the next 'Kabir' (of Yeh Jawani hai deewani ) or 'Ved' /Tara(of Tamasha) with their own 'Euro' scripts.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 1/17 by Biswanath banerjee

Being a millennial (subscriber of so many youtube travel channel) & a movie buff , I am fascinated with the poly chromatic world , and has come to an opinion (with a bit of pan India Travel experience) - "WORLD IS FAR MORE A CONVIVIAL PLACE THAN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD".In addition, when you come across Mark Twain's writing or Poems of Tagore , the spree to explore would become an inseparable part of your life. One of the famous quotes of Mark Twain happens to be a constant source of inspiration in my life -

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ”

or

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

With all flames blazing in the heart, I started my first euro trip planning with a dream "to know the unknown and to see the unseen" - an age old saying.

In this blog, I will pen down all the details (from planning to travelling) so that the readers can also plan and execute similar kind of trip on their own. Believe you me, the joy of taking a trip with a travel company is nothing in comparison to executing your own travel plan. It's not only the trip, the whole process(planning/visa application/ticket booking etc.etc.) in itself is deeply satisfying and a learning experience as far as travelling is concerned.

The entire travelogue can be broadly classified into following sub groups :-

1. Itinerary finalization

2. Ticket Booking

3. Accommodation Booking

4. Visa Application

5. Fine tuning the itinerary

6. Arranging Foreign Currency & Sim Card

7. Day wise Trip Details

8. Detailed Expenditure

1. Itinerary finalization :

One of the most challenging part of finalizing a Euro Trip itinerary is selection of no of countries to travel to out of a pack of 40+, when the countries are literally border less ,so much so, that one visa (schengen visa) allows you to explore 26 European member states without any individual entry formalities.

Therefore, the hard pressed choice to be made depending on the following :

(a) Characteristics of the traveler (i.e. Nature Lover/History,Art&Culture Enthusiast ,Reveler etc.)

(b) No. of days in hand (Don't cram the itinerary with too many countries. Instead of gathering a life time experience, it will end up becoming a frazzling relay race. Every country is unique in it's own way and have plenty in store to offer. So, provide adequate no. of days in every country to assimilate its underlying essence in your experience)

(c) Budget (Central and eastern European countries are comparatively less costlier than Western & Scandinavian Countries)

After a lot of research work, me and two of my friends, decided to travel to Netherlands, France & Switzerland ( an obvious choice being a nature lover ) in 13 days time.

The general itinerary looked something like this (detailed itinerary shared in the later part of the blog in sl. no. 5) ::

17.07.2019- Delhi to Amsterdam

18.07.19-20.07.19 - Exploring Netherlands

21.07.2019- Amsterdam to Paris (by train)

22.07.19-23.07.19 - Exploring France (Paris & Versailles)

24.07.19 - Paris- Basel (Switzerland)

25.07.19-28.07.19- Exploring Switzerland

29.07.2019- Geneva to Delhi

30.07.2019- Arriving at New Delhi

2. Ticket Booking ::

One of the prerequisite for 'schengen visa' application is submission of a flight itinerary** .

**flight itinerary : A flight itinerary is the proposed route of an airline information such as flight name, departure/arrival timings along with dates, your flight code, departure/arrival airport IATA codes(Ex: FRA,BLR, SFC) and your flight reservation/booking numbers. In a nutshell, it is a dummy ticket used to hold a seat for a particular period, beyond which reservation will stand to be null and void.

After scouring through lot of blog post, where in ample accounts of rejection of schengen visa has been recorded for absence of confirmed air ticket, I was not ready to put my schengen visa application to someone's whims & fancies. So, I booked a confirmed air ticket (from DEL-AMS & GVA-DEL) 4 months prior to my journey date (a recipe to get cheaper air ticket )using a well known online ticket booking platform. It would be prudent to book refundable tickets in place of non-refundable ones.

In addition, high speed trains were also booked for Amsterdam to Paris and Paris to Basel pursuant to visa requirements.(Flixbus is also a viable budget alternative for intra-schengen country travelling).

I used https://www.thalys.com and https://www.raileurope-world.com/train/tgv-75?lang=en&var_mode=calcul for booking train tickets.

Apart from the above, https://www.rome2rio.com & https://global.flixbus.com can also be used for inter country transportation booking.

3. Accommodation Booking :-

Another prerequisite for visa application is showing a proof of accommodation. In this case, use portals like Booking.com for booking accommodation without any cancellation charges.Once the visa is granted, you will have the option to modify the itinerary and accordingly, accommodations.

Initially, for visa purpose, I booked accommodations using booking.com in the following places without going into nitty-gritties :-

a. Amsterdam

b. Paris

c. Interlaken

https://www.hostelworld.com/ https://www.youthhostel.ch/en or Airbnb can be used for budget accommodation booking.

4. Visa Application :-

a. Schengen Tourist Visa -

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area(The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.), per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

b. Validity :-

The Uniform Schengen Visa stands for a permit of one of the Schengen Area Member Countries to transit or reside in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to the maximum of 90 days every six month period starting from the date of entry.

c. Type of Tourist Visa :

Single-entry visa - A single-entry visa allows its holder to enter the Schengen Area only once, within the given period of time, as mentioned in the visa sticker affixed to their passport. Once the visa holder exits the Schengen territory, he or she can no longer go back, even if they have not spend there the number of days as permitted by the embassy that issued them the visa.

Example- In my case, I am entering into the schengen area through Netherlands and exiting through Switzerland.In a single entry visa, once I exit through Switzerland, I won't be allowed to enter again. It is not the no. of countries, you will be travelling to(Though ,I travelled to 3 countries but I applied for single entry tourist visa ).It is no. of times, you will be enter+exit the whole of a schengen area not individual schengen countries.

Double-entry visa :- As the name suggests, you can enter the schengen area once again.

Multiple-entry visa :- A multiple-entry visa allows its holder to go in and out of the Schengen Area as many times as he or she wants to ( with max. 90 days you can spend in 180 days time period).

e. Where to apply :-

If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, file your application at the embassy / consulate / visa center of that country

If you are going to visit more than two Schengen countries, file your application:

At the embassy / consulate / visa center of the country where you will spend most days, if you will be spending unequal amount of days in each

At the embassy / consulate / visa center of the country where you will step first, if you will be spending an equal amount of days in each.

f. When to Apply :-

The earliest you can file a visa application: three months before you start your planned trip.

The latest you can file a visa application: at most 15 working days before you intend to travel.

The recommended time to file a visa application: at least three weeks before your trip.

Normally, It takes around 7-15 days for visa processing.

g. Documents Needed :-

As I was staying in Switzerland for maximum period of time in my entire journey, I applied for schengen visa through Swiss Embassy.

Here, it is to be noted that visa application to be made through a company named Vfsglobal.com. Document requirements are clearly given in the site itself . (Document checklist for Swiss Embassy is attached herewith)

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 2/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 3/17 by Biswanath banerjee

Once, all documents are collected, book an appointment with Vfsglobal.com for document verification/submission and for biometrics.

You will get an emailed response once the docs are submitted to respective embassy. In case, any further documents are needed, embassy may contact you through email/phone.

Key Documents ::

Personal Covering Letter:-

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 4/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Page 1/2
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 5/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Page 2/2

No Objection Certificate ::

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 6/17 by Biswanath banerjee
NOC

Travel Itinerary Format ::

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 7/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Itinerary

Visa Fees : Approx. 4500 Rs.

Account Balance :

a. Maintain sufficient fund balance in your savings account for 3 months, a statement of which to be submitted to Embassy to showcase your financial healthiness.

As a general thumb rule,

A/C balance = No. of days of travel* (8000-10000) Rs.

If your savings account doesn't have sufficient fund balance, FD's may be liquidated.

Sudden deposition of chunk amount of money into the account will be seen as an attempt to inflate the fund balance.

It is better to submit the bank account statements stamped by the concerned bank.

5. Fine Tuning the itinerary ::

Once the visa is approved, you can certainly modify your itinerary. So, we researched further and modified the itinerary to certain extent , obviously, modifying the hotel accommodations accordingly.

So, the detailed itinerary is attached below :-

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 8/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Final Itinerary

6. Arranging Foreign Currency and Sim Card :-

We made a sample calculation on the probable expenditures in the trip. As because, we travelled to countries where two different currencies (Euro & CHF) are used, we segregated our expenses accordingly.

We decided to keep 200 EURO and 200 CHF in hand ,just to take care any unforeseen scenario, from www.bookmyforex.com .

It is pertinent to mention that europe is plastic money friendly country. So, better to put max. amount of money in a travel/forex card rather than carrying hard cash.

During this trip, we used ICICI Bank multicurrency forex card(CHF & EURO) , which can be bought and refilled online.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 9/17 by Biswanath banerjee

Matrix International sim card was bought with 1GB data pack and 100 min talktime. (All hotels/hostels /major train stations are equipped with wi-fi.)

7. Day wise trip details :-

DAY 01 ::

@2:30 am, I am standing in a long queue at one of the immigration counters of Delhi Airport along with two of my friends with a spirited body & mind - devouring every moment in the path of fulfilling one of the most sought after travel goals- "ZNMD before 30 " :) :)

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 10/17 by Biswanath banerjee

The immigration officer didn't ask any question and stamped my passport after giving an expressionless look at my face :)

So, we boarded our alitalia flight to Rome -Fiumicino Airport(0400hrs.-0830 hrs.) with exhilaration running through the body and why won't it be ? Planning, planning and planning for last 3 months and finally, this was the moment to savour.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 11/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 12/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 13/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 14/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 15/17 by Biswanath banerjee

Ironically, in the flight, I watched a movie named 'Gone Girl'(Cast- Ben Affleck,Rosamund Pyke) when the title could have been 'Gone Boy' ('Gone' from the claustrophobic corporate life).

Alitalia flight touched down Fiumicino Airport around 0830 hrs. (local time ). As our next flight to Amsterdam was at 1400 hrs.,after completing our 'in transit' visa formalities(mere passport stamping by Rome immigration officials after checking our onward flight ticket to Amsterdam), we went straight to the tourist information counter to collate information to visit the 'Famous Colosseum' - an impromptu decision taken by us much in line with our desire not to leave a single second wasted in the ongoing Euro Escapade.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 16/17 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip 17/17 by Biswanath banerjee

So, we booked a round trip to Colosseum from Airport in a shared BMW SUV at a cost of €25 per person. With 120 kmph in the speedometer, marching past the hustling and bustling city lanes ,reminiscent of Grand Roman Empire , we reached the famous or infamous Colosseum within 45 mins.

Day 1

The Roman Colosseum or Coliseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian. It was completed by his son, Titus, in 80, with later improvements by Domitian.

Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Biswanath banerjee

The Colosseum is located just east of the Roman Forum and was built to a practical design, with its 80 arched entrances allowing easy access to 55,000 spectators, who were seated according to rank.

Roman gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. Most were men, but there were a few female gladiators. These combats were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience around the Roman Colosseum. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. If the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on.

Opening hours: 8:30 - 15:30 every day.

The Roman Coliseum is located in the heart of piazza del Colosseo, on the (blue) metro line.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

We came back to Airport after spending 2.5 hours in the awe-developing grand architectural cum historical marvel to catch the onward flight to Amsterdam .

Within 2 hours (1400-1600 hrs.),our alitalia flight landed at Schipol Airport,Amsterdam.

Photo of Schiphol Airport, Schiphol Boulevard, Schiphol, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Schiphol Airport, Schiphol Boulevard, Schiphol, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Schiphol Airport, Schiphol Boulevard, Schiphol, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

We had booked 'WoW Amsterdam Hostel' during our stay at Amsterdam, which is located in an area closer to Sloterdjik Metro station, one stop in between. After buying 3 tickets from the vending machine, we boarded our first train in Netherland to reach sloterdjik.

Photo of Sloterdijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Sloterdijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

It's a beautiful small town, away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam Central but well connected through tram/bus and metro (10 mins by Train/30 mins by Bus).

Public transportation system in Netherlands is simply phenomenal and run with a 'second' like precision.

After a long arduous day of travel, finally, we checked into our hostel to cobble together much of an energy for a 'freaking travel tomorrow '.It was a 8 bed mixed dorm room inclusive of breakfast and free wi-fi connectivity.

https://www.wow-amsterdam.nl/

DAY 02 ::

Day 2

The night passed like a tracer bullet as I was enervated yesterday. I had a very good night sleep in the upper tier of a double bunk bed in the dormitory room. After getting freshened up, it was time to fill the belly for another travel packed day ahead. Breakfast was pretty sumptuous ranging from corn-flakes to Orange Juices to Breads etc.

We took a train from Sloterdijk to Amsterdam Central (10 mins of travel time) to officially begin our rendezvous with Europe.

After lot of discussions, headbanging here and there,unanimously, it was decided to take a hop-on-hop-off bus ride to economically explore the Amsterdam City area.This will save you time and money during your stay in Amsterdam. Choose between a 24- or a 48 hour ticket and see all the best highlights in Amsterdam. You can hop on and off the buses and boats at every stop. The GPS audio guide on board is available in 18 languages and free Wi-Fi is included on all buses and boats.

Photo of Amsterdam Centraal, Stationsplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Amsterdam Centraal, Stationsplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Bus tickets costed €38 /person excluding museum entry ticket fees.Amongst the multiple pit-stops, depending on our likings, we visited the following spots-

Experience the brilliance of diamonds at Gassan Diamonds! The Amsterdam diamond company Gassan Diamonds is located in a former steam-driven diamond factory. A historic building, where you can watch diamond cutters at work while a guide tells you all about diamond processing. Experience the thrill of the diamond polishing process at Gassan Diamonds. Admire the work of talented craftsmen as they turn rough diamonds into dazzling, exquisitely polished stones.

Photo of Gassan Diamonds, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Gassan Diamonds, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Located at the heart of Amsterdam's Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is one of the world’s most renowned art museums and a true must-see. Even if you have only little time to spare, a walk through the Gallery of Honour will offer you a glimpse of Dutch’s finest art.

Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Entry Time : Open daily 9:00-17:00

Ticket Price : €20 /person

The Vondelpark is a public urban park of 47 hectares (120 acres) in Amsterdam, Netherlands near Rejik Museum. It's a pretty happening place as locals as well as tourist throng here for leisure activity.

Photo of Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

This museum is situated at a stone's throw distance from the Rejik Museum.If time and interest permits, it can be visited. As we are not art enthusiasts, so, decided to let it go.

Photo of Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

After a day long vagabonding , we came back to Central station.All of us were extremely hungry and looking for some restaurant where we could get something eatable not mere bovine meals :P (our taste buds were screeching after eating cabbage leaf,green leafs and what not at a trought ; no lesser than Bear Grylls daredevilry :):) ).

Finally, found a restaurant named 'Flame Steakhouse' to savour delicacies.After that, we explored amsterdam nightlife a bit and finally, came back to hostel around 2200 hrs. to put a full stop on day 2. We had our dinner in a downtown Indian restaurant named 'Motimahal'

Day 3
Photo of Giethoorn, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Giethoorn, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Giethoorn, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

How to Reach Giethoorn from Sloterdijk or Amsterdam Central (Using Public Transportation system) ::

Already stated earlier, public transportation system of Amsterdam is phenomenal. Entire country is interconnected through a grid of Rail/Tram/Bus network with second like precision. Therefore, when you are planning to visit Netherland, use Public Transportation system to the fullest.Not only the destination, even the journey through the dutch countryside in itself is idyllic, awe-inspiring.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

First, from the sloterdijk train station, we bought a one day Holland Travel Ticket ** to cover our entire public transportation usage charges upto Giethoorn at a price of €41 per person. It is a cost saving option rather than paying for individual journeys in between.

a. First take a train from Sloterdijk/ Central to Arnhem Central

b. Change train at Arnhem Central for Zwolle

c. Change train at Zwolle for steenwijk

d. Just outside steenwijk station, catch Bus no.370 for Giethoorn

e. Get down from the bus at a stoppage named Dominee Hylkemaweg.

Finally, you have reached Giethoorn after 3.5 hours, a postcard-perfect village surrounded by water in the north of The Netherlands, after all permutations and combinations.

(**Holland Travel Ticket :

Holland boasts a very comprehensive public transport network. You can get pretty much everywhere. Travel to special cities like Groningen, Maastricht, The Hague, and Utrecht. Or catch a bus and explore picturesque little villages like Volendam and Giethoorn.Buy this pass, when you are planning to go beyond 25 kms from the central , which doesn't fall within amsterdam regional circuit (Within 25 kms., use Amsterdam regional passes for travelling .) Take help from Tourist information centres/travel desks before buying such concessional travel pass.)

It is so peaceful, so different and has such simple beauty that it hardly seems real – gently gliding along small canals past old but pretty thatched-roof farmhouses.

You can turn down a “side street” (another small canal) and drift under a wooden bridge where an elderly resident may be strolling over to see a neighbor. No this is not Venice, or Amsterdam.

It is too quiet, too serene and remote. It is so calm that its nickname of the “Dutch Venice” may give a false impression of size and crowds and commercialism.

Here in Holland’s water village of Giethoorn the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds.Giethoorn is at the centre of Overijssel’s canal system. Indeed, the little village is so dependent on its waterways, many of the houses cannot be reached by road. Boating has been a popular tourist attraction here for years, with 90km of canoe trails and scores of motorboats to rent.

So, we hired a boat for one hour (@15 euro) and explored the canal side picturesque village. We were mesmerized and awed to see such well maintained village with nature at its' very core. Indeed, one of the 'stand alone' experiences of our euro sojourn.

After completing our day long excursion in one of the most beautiful villages alongside placid canal , it was time to bid adieu with heavy heart , and came back to Amsterdam Central following the same trajectory.

It was time to fuel the engine before it broke down.After satiating our hunger with those chicken burgers, we sauntered towards an area which is kind of world famous for its' own reasons passing through a hustling and bustling city's central square surrounded by grand old buildings redolent of history as well as modern art houses such as Madame Tussauds.

Yes, I was talking about city's much famous/infamous Red light district area .

Photo of Red Light Secrets, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Nowadays, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands but not on the streets. That's why prostitutes in Amsterdam stand up behind a window and have their own room. The name of "Red Light District" comes from the red neon lights that highlight the 300 windows where women are working.

Well, if curiosity does get the better of you, come down at night when the district really comes to life.Most of the action takes place around 11pm , when the district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the inky canals. The atmosphere pretty much thrives until around 2 or 3am when the crowds die down and businesses shut stop.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Don’t visit the Red Light District first otherwise you may get the wrong idea about the Dutch and Amsterdam as this is not all Netherland has to offer! Enjoy yourself, as a trip down the RLD will leave a lasting impression.

Although the area of Amsterdam Red light district may look dodgy, it is certainly not any dangerous place . It is actually quite safe and well controlled part of the city, Amsterdam's heart of night entertainment.

Be Respectful :

It is strictly forbidden to take pictures or film women behind their windows. A sign is sticked on every window as a reminder. Be careful if you try to take a photograph as working women can become very aggressive. The best is to keep your phone or camera in your pocket otherwise you risk to be kicked out by the bouncers.

After walking down the labyrinthine alleys for almost two hours,it was time to call it a day- world is really wide and varied !!!!

DAY 04 ::

In a hindsight, it was a crazy day- travelled like no tomorrow . Basically, a day started with a plan and ended up with 'Bohemian Rhapsody '- wondering like a vagabond , making the trip decide the destination not the other way around. Literally, we thoroughly enjoyed such unplanned escapade - almost criss crossing Dutch Countryside.Believe you me, if you want to feel the vibration of a country,such as this, leave behind the hullabaloo of cityscape, dive deep into the mellifluousness of countryside. It was serene, It was calming,It was enmeshing - verdant pastures underneath azuring blue sky ,nothing sort of a picture perfect canvas. I never imagined that Dutch countryside is so beautiful, so alluring - a Magnum Opus of God- so much to offer to dazzle a nature lover's heart , often been downsized by the cacophony of city life.

After having our complimentary breakfast in the Hostel , we went to our nearest train station i.e.Sloterdijk and bought 'Regional Travel Pass' (19 euro/person) to explore amsterdam and it's surrounding areas.(within 25 kms approx.)

Day 4

Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular tourist attractions,on the east bank of the Zaan River, north of Zaandam in the Netherlands.It offers a perfectly preserved glimpse into the Netherlands' industrial past with its traditional houses, windmills, warehouses and workshops.

Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

From Sloterdijk/Amsterdam Centraal , take a train to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station. From there, it is a 10-15 minutes walk through the village of Zaandijk - just follow the signs.

Volendam is a charming fishing village to the northeast of Amsterdam. It is considered one of the most picturesque places in Holland, attracting thousands of tourist every year.It is a fishing village founded in the fourteenth century, located 20 kms. northeast of Amsterdam, between Edam and Marken.Volendam does not stand out for any particular landmark, instead what draws thousands of visitors to this small town every year is the town’s pretty architecture and well looked after streets. The best things to do is to walk along its promenade, discover its quaint shops and city center.

Photo of Volendam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Volendam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Volendam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Volendam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Volendam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

We took bus from Zaanse Schans to reach volendam, using the public transportation map given with the Regional travel pass.

When you think of Edam, you often think of cheese first. But Edam is more than just cheese. In this authentic village on IJsselmeer lake, you will also find pleasant shopping streets and cozy terraces.

Photo of Edam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Edam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Edam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

From Volendam, we took a bus to come to this picturesque countryside named Edam.

Photo of Kwakelbrug, Kwakelsteeg, Edam, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Kwakelbrug is a wooden bridge of the XVIII century in Edam.The bridge connects Kwakelsteeg with Doelenstraat. The bridge is a drawbridge or swing bridge or folding bridge. It offers a wonderful view of the canal and picturesque village houses built alongside the canal . Walking through the quaint village roads in itself was an experience worth cherishing.

It was 0330pm in the clock and had completed our 'scheduled' part of today's exploration.The advantage of coming to Europe in Summer months is that you get plenty of opportune time (Sunrise : 0600 Hrs.- Sunset :2200 Hrs.) to travel with having almost 16 hrs. of daylight.

So, we scoured through the map and decided to go to a place named 'Keukenhof' ,world famous for its' stunning tulip garden, knowing the fact that the season was already over (April-May),but, still, was trying our luck against all odds.

From, Edam/Marken, we took a bus to reach the nearest train station i.e. Purmerend for onward journey to Hoofddorp.It hardly takes around 20 mins in Bus to reach to Keukenhof from Hoofddorp.However, after reaching Hoofddorp, we came to know that the bus service is available (for visiting Tulip Garden in Keukenhof) in seasons only.

After buying burgers and french fries from a fast food outlet at the station, we opened the map again and found a place named FloraHolland, which fueled our hope to get a glimpse of elusive Tulip Bloom in off season.Royal FloraHolland,is a Dutch conglomerate of florists. It is one of the largest auction companies in the world with headquarter in Aalsmeer.

Hoofddorp----(Bus)------Haarlem---------(Bus)--------Amstelveen Bus Stop ----(Bus)------FloraHolland.

Photo of Flora Holland Aalsmeer P 27 Staircase Yellow, Legmeerdijk, Aalsmeer, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Flora Holland Aalsmeer P 27 Staircase Yellow, Legmeerdijk, Aalsmeer, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Flora Holland Aalsmeer P 27 Staircase Yellow, Legmeerdijk, Aalsmeer, Netherlands by Biswanath banerjee

Upon reaching there, though, we could not get to see the 'Tulips', but, a sense of 'eudaimonia' was exuding out of this unplanned travelling towards no destination.

Travel like there is no tomorrow and feel the magnificence of de-planning sometimes.

Keeping the blissful setting Sun rays at the back, we ambled across the street to head back to our Hostel with tons of memory.

Flora Holland----(Bus)------Schiphol Nord.---------(Bus)--------Sloterdijk.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Sometimes, we are being caught in a dichotomy !!! The dichotomy of leaving behind a pleasurable past for want of a blissful future. Yes, I might sound a bit nostalgic,bit philosophical,but, am I to be blamed ?There are few occasions in life,when you feel every breath of your life, when you put emphasis on life not on living, when you are just aware !!!In last 4 days in Netherlands, I have lived every single moment , I have traveled for life .It might sound very cliched but nonetheless truth at its' core.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Day 5

Thalys, a luxurious,super comfortable,high speed train ,took us from Amsterdam central to Paris Gare du Nord in 3h23 mins. Train journeys in europe in itself is a cherishable experience. Verdant pastures stretching miles after miles amidst a backdrop of azure blue sky with puffs of white clouds floating here and there, a vista beholden from a 6X6 window is enchanting enough to beguile a passenger's journey time in seconds.

Photo of Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

We had booked Hotel de lille louvre for our stay in Paris. Hotel offers a very frugal amenities at a budget cost, a perfect fit for group of backpackers, with a plus point of its' proximity to world's famous Louvre Museum. 8-minute walk from Chatelet-Les Halles metro station/5-min walk from Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre metro station, 5 minutes on foot from the Louvre Museum and 4 km from the iconic Eiffel Tower, makes it well connected to the heartbeat of the city.However, if , comfort is your yardstick for choosing an accomodation, it would be wise to scour through other options.

As mentioned, we took a metro for Chatelet-Les Halles from the Gare du nord station followed by a 10 mins walk through the city's labyrinthine alleys, which took us into 1st. arrondissement, where our hotel is located.

After checking into the hotel, I got out to get a feeling of the city vibes. When you have heard so much about a particular city, it's irresistible to remain confined into the four walls of a 'boring' hotel room. Much intuned with my vagabondic travel spirit, I went out not to visit any particular place rather strolling down the city lanes to inhale the aura of the place.

Day 6

The Louvre or the Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, receiving 10.2 million visitors.

Photo of Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

In order to get a confirmed entry into the museum, More so, during summer,it is advised to pre book museum entry tickets through official online platform(https://www.louvre.fr/en), unless otherwise you might not make into the museum owing to its' week long queue.(Ticket price is around 17 euro)

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.Free admission on the first Saturday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25.

It was a mere 5 mins walk from our hotel, just on the other side of the main road.

The gardens, which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, are a pleasant place for walking and for culture for Parisians and tourists.The gardens’ two ponds are perfect places to relax by.Benches and seats are provided free of charge so that everyone can enjoy the vista in a hot summer day.

Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

Be dazzled by the 1,113 stained glass windows at this jewel of the Rayonnant Gothic period.A gem of Gothic style. Built in seven years, an impressive feat, the Sainte Chapelle was intended to house precious Christian relics, including Christ's crown of thorns, acquired by Saint Louis.(Ticket price is 10 euro).

Photo of Sainte-Chapelle, Boulevard du Palais, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Sainte-Chapelle, Boulevard du Palais, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

We straddled a distance of 1.3 km through the parisian streets to reach Sainte Chapelle following the Google map.

Notre-Dame de Paris, also called Notre-Dame Cathedral, cathedral church in Paris. It is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size, antiquity, and architectural interest.

Photo of Notre Dame, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

During a restoration campaign in 2019, a fire broke out in the cathedral’s attic, and the massive blaze destroyed most of the roof, 19th-century spire, and some of the rib vaulting. Currently, the church is closed for tourists on account of ongoing repairment works.

Notre-Dame is at a stone's throw distance away from the Chapelle.

Situated at the Place de l’Etoile, overlooking the Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe is the biggest arch in the world. It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz.

Photo of Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

Sainte-Chapelle-----(walk)---------Châtelet Metro Station----(Train)----------Charles de Gaulle Étoile Station-------(walk)---------Arc de Triomphe.

Grand Palais, is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France. If you are not an art enthusiast, I won't suggest this place.

Arc de Triomphe------(walk)--Charles de Gaulle Étoile Station------------(Train)-----------Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau station---------------(walk)------Grand Palais.

The Petit Palais is an art museum in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Petit Palais is located across from the Grand Palais Museum.Unless otherwise you are interested in art and culture , this museum will fall short to your expectations.So, better to plan accordingly rather than going by the hyperbole of internet suggestions.

Photo of Petit Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur,standing at the summit of the mountain Montmartre, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France.After the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sacre-Coeur is the most visited church in France.The Sacre-Coeur welcomes more than 10 millions visitors per year.The Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Six other architects succeeded him to complete the building.The exterior travertine stone, comes from a quarry in Seine et Marne and it exudes calcite on contact with rainwater, making it extremely white. It offers a jaw dropping panoramic view of the downtown.

Photo of Sacré-Cœur, rue du Chevalier-de-La-Barre, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Sacré-Cœur, rue du Chevalier-de-La-Barre, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

Caution :: Be careful of the robbers/racists swarming in the pathway towards Sacré-Cœur . It is better not to carry too much of a cash in the wallet . Robbery/Pick-pocketing is very common in european cities. Sometimes, in the name tying a friendship band around your wrist, they will snatch out money, with targeting group of people belonging from a particular ethnicity.

Grand Palais------(walk)------Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau station-----(Train)---------Place de Clichy --------(Train Change)--------Anvers station-------(walk)-----------Sacré-Cœur.

Photo of Eiffel Tower, Paris, France by Biswanath banerjee

The Eiffel Tower,was the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition — or World's Fair — of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France's industrial prowess to the world.

Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer, is usually credited with designing the tower that bears his name. However, it was actually two lesser-known men, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, who came up with the original drawings for the monument.the engineers submitted their plans to a contest that would determine the centerpiece for the 1889 World's Fair in Paris.

The Eiffel company's design won, and construction of the wrought-iron tower began in July 1887 and got completed in Mar,1889.

The Eiffel Tower is still the centerpiece of Paris' cityscape. More than 7 million people visit this iconic tower every year, according to the attraction's official website. Since the tower's 1889 opening, 250 million people from around the world have enjoyed all that the Eiffel Tower has to offer.

And it has a lot to offer. The tower's three platforms are home to two restaurants, several buffets, a banquet hall, a champagne bar and many unique gift shops. Educational tours of the tower are available for children and tourist groups.

The tower is open to visitors 365 days a year, with visiting times varying by season. From June to September, the tower remains open until after midnight. Rates vary, but visitors can expect to pay between $13 (10 euros) and $19 (14.5 euros) per person for access to the tower's three public lifts and 704 stairs. Tickets, including group-discounted tickets, can be purchased online or at the ticket office at the foot of the tower.

Every evening, the Eiffel Tower is adorned with its golden covering and sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, while its beacon shines over Paris.

The nearest metro station to Paris's iconic grand structure is Trocadéro.

Sacré-Cœur----(walk)-----Anvers------(Train)-------------Charles de Gaulle-Étoile---(Train Change)----- Trocadéro-----(walk)------Eiffel Tower.

We spent almost 3 magical hours in front of the Tower, totally enthralled, mesmerized, more so, with the electrifying ambience, courtesy to gathering of people across the globe. As the sun set in, the crowd started to throng even more to witness the sparking of eiffel tower making it happening with no definition. My heart will go on or Ellie Goulding's -Love me like you do, played by some freelancers in the backdrop with inquisitive crowds encircling them,adding exuberance to the ethereal atmosphere.

With half hearts and reverse steps, we bid adieu to Mr.Eiffel , a perfect spot to rejuvenate after a frazzled out day.

After a long tiresome travel day, nothing could be better than savouring Indian delicacies - a kind of 'elixir'- at New Jawad Restaurant.

Ambling across the parisian streets at nights is an experience in itself,reminds me of the movie named Midnight in Paris, where in Gil Pender, a struggling screenwriter, arrives to this boisterous city , not only to propel his struggling career but also to resuscitate the sunken relationship with her ambitious fiancée.

After a night of wine testing, Jill decided to walk back to the hotel. At midnight, a 1920s car pulls up beside him, and the passengers, dressed in 1920s wardrobe, urge him to join them for a party , only to discover later, the presence of notable figures of that era - like Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway etc .

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

I am no Gil to search for an elixir in one of the most romantic cities of the world to revive the falling career or to solve relationship kerfuffle.Rather, I, being a solivagant, was wandering through those grand old parisian alleys with a hope to find that one '1920' chariot , which would paratroop me from modernism to nostalgia.

Alas!!! I found none :) .Still, A midnight in Paris was embellishing enough to beguile the wanderer's wandering soul.At night, as if, the whole city was bewitched by the sorcerer's magic wand.

After spending a hour or two at musee de louvre,taking full advantage of its' proximity to our hotel, we hanged our boots for the day.............

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Day 7

Few palaces rival France’s Château de Versailles for sheer opulence. Located on the outskirts of Paris, this former home of French kings offers visitors a chance to walk in the footsteps of royalty. The complex was commissioned by Louis XIV, who moved the nation’s government to Versailles in 1682 and wanted a palace to match the glory of his reign.

Versailles remained the epicenter of French royal power for more than a century, until 1789, when an agitated group of revolutionaries stormed the palace and evicted Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The mob sent the royal couple back to Paris, where they were eventually beheaded.

While the French monarchs are long gone, Versailles remains a national icon. Beginning in the 19th century, portions of the palace were opened to the public and converted into a museum. In 1979, its rich history, architecture, and landscapes earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Palace is open every day except on Mondays from 9:00 am.

The entry fee to the grand palace is 20 euro.

How to go :

Musée du Louvre was the nearest metro station from our hotel.

Musée du Louvre----(Metro)-----------Gare Saint-Lazare-------(Change Metro and catch Regional Train)----- Versailles - Rive Droite station ----------(Bus-10 min)---------------Versailles Palace.

It takes around 2.5 hrs. to reach versailles from Paris Central.

However, while coming back, we followed another route :

Versailles Palace----------(Walk)--------------Versailles Bus Stop-------------------(Bus) ----------Pont de Sèvres metro station------(Metro)------Musée du Louvre.

Photo of Versailles palace, Versailles, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Versailles palace, Versailles, France by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Versailles palace, Versailles, France by Biswanath banerjee

In last three days , though not covered France extensively,a plethora of experience was cobbled together.The societal matrix, as seen in those limited period, was entirely different from Netherlands. Signs of penury or people living in abject poverty was visible . My personal understanding is that the country is reeling under the pressure,and conspicuous also, of unreigned migration through a borderless conglomerate of countries. The chasm in the society is pretty evident with people belonging from a particular race was being seen as facing difficulty in earning subsistence. Adding to that, pickpocketing or robbery is not very alien , particularly, in touristy places .

Travel advisory : -

a. Don't carry too much of a cash. Use plastic money to the extent possible

b. Be careful about passport or essentials

c. Try to avoid sequestered places.

d. Night in Paris is magical but avoid solo vagabonding through quaint streets.

e. Though not faced, still, racial vilification, if you come across, to be brushed aside with nonchalance.

f. Midnight pub crawling , visiting in painted & dainted areas to be avoided,unless otherwise you are guided by a local.

These are not to intimidate any budding traveler. But, as the adage goes, it is better to prepare and prevent rather than repair and repent.The world is a beautiful place and those who do not travel , devoid of very 'life' experience.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Day 8

We had booked a ticket in train TGV lyria for entering into Switzerland i.e.Basel (45 CHF per person), the crown jewel of our trip. It took us around 3h30 mins to reach to Basel, Switzerland from Paris Gare de lyon station.

Immediately,the question that will pop up in the minds of the reader is why Basel rather than going to those tourist hot spots. Wait then. We would go to those touristy places but first thing first.

In Switzerland, there are more than dozens of concessional travel cards available, according to the needs of a traveler.In order to buy that concessional card, a must for availing train tickets at a reduced fare, we alighted from the train at the first stoppage i.e. Basel inside Switzerland.

At any major train station in Switzerland , SBB CFF FFS counters are there, from where these cards can be bought.There is a reigning debate vis-a-vis more cost efficient option in between Swiss Half Fare card and Swiss Travel Pass. After journeying extensively through Swiss region , I would unequivocally say, Half fare card worth the price spent. In a hindsight, my ticket costs would have been higher (even after deducting the price of the card) hadn't I bought the Half fare card.

Half Fare Card ::

Buy a Swiss Half Fare Card for your Rail Travel in Switzerland. With the Swiss Half Fare Card , you can travel throughout Switzerland at half price. The Swiss Half Fare Card entitles the holder to purchase tickets for train, bus, boat, and some mountain railways at half price.

The card is valid for a month, sufficient enough period to compensate the journey cost of a traveller.

The card costs around 120 CHF.

From SBB counter,in addition to the half fare card, we also purchased train tickets(@half price) for our onward journey to Interlaken.

IC61, a comfortable swiss train, took us to Interlaken Ost. station from Basel in 1 hr.58 mins,much in line with its' fabled precision.As the saying goes, you can match your watch with the train's timing.

Interlaken lies in the Bernese Oberland region, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The vacation destination, which is presided over by the three mighty mountains, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, is the starting point for numerous activities.

Photo of Interlaken Ost, Interlaken, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Interlaken Ost, Interlaken, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Interlaken Ost, Interlaken, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Harder Kulm, Unterseen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Harder Kulm, Unterseen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Harder Kulm, Unterseen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

After devouring the beauty of this picturesque swiss town, we crossed the bridge over lake thun to come a station named 'Harder Bahn' to go to 'Harder Kulm',Top of Interlaken. With a modern funicular train, within 10 mins,Harder Kulm,Top of Interlaken, can be reached from the valley station.(19 CHF per person for to and fro journey from Harderbahn-subjected to availability of Hare Fare Card; otherwise,38 CHF to be paid)

If Interlaken had a king, he would reside on the Harder Kulm. From the viewing platform at 1,322 metres above sea level he would graciously look down upon Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, or admire the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. In fact, the Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant is reminiscent of a castle. In order to visit it, however, you don't need to be a king – just take a seat in the cable car and ascend Interlaken's own mountain.

Photo of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

After coming down from the alluring swiss mountain top, it was time for another and today's last swiss countryside visit - LauterBrunnen.It takes around 20 mins to reach to Lauterbrunnen by train from Interlaken Ost station.

After reaching there, we checked into our hotel named Base Cafe hotel , well within a 5 mins walk from the station.

Lauterbrunnen is situated in one of the most impressive valleys in the Alps, between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks. With its 72 thundering waterfalls, secluded valleys, colourful alpine meadows and lonely mountain inns, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the biggest nature conservation areas in Switzerland.

So,hyper excited with the travel spree, that immediately after putting our bags inside the cabin, we went on to explore the small village,often been considered as the 'Gateway to Jungfrau region.Calm,serene,picturesque, village road led us to one of its' famed water fall - staubbach waterfall ,from which voluminous amount of water is dropping from a vertiginous cliff height of approx. 300 mtrs. After that, we went on to explore the unbeaten tracks of the village, crossed a swelling and impetuous glacial river , a children's park and a cemetery.A special mention to all the wooden houses,so well maintained and decorated , much in semblance with the jaw dropping beauty of outside world.

Instead of staying in the downtown suburbs like Interlaken, it is suggested to stay in this mountain valleys (like Lauterbrunnen /Murren/Wengen) to breathe nature at its' pristine form.Lauterbrunnen will offer you both easy accessibility from Interlaken as well as mellifluousness of nature- a rare combination to find.

Point to remember : Swiss people take dinner early. All restaurants stop taking order for dinner by 2030 hrs. so that they can pack up by 2100 hrs. As they are extremely punctual, you can try your luck, but we ended up in vain.

Day 9

In Morning, all of us were beaming with excitement, to see the much talked about Jungfraujoch.A viewing point, standing at an altitude of 3454m,is located in between the well known mountains Mönch and Jungfrau, offering stunning panoramic vistas of mountains and glaciers.

Photo of Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Let me rewind to the beginning. As we would be staying in Lauterbrunnen itself, there was no need for packing etc. We took some breakfast items from our hotel-cum-restaurant before going towards railway station. Tickets of this mountain railways are extremely costly. A ticket for jungfrau region costed us around 117 CHF per person with a half fare card.(Ticket was bought for Lauterbrunnen-Klein Scheidegg- Jungfraujoch and return to Klein Scheidegg. We returned to Lauterbrunnen following another route owing to which klein-schedegg to Lauterbrunnen was not booked )

Suggested Route to explore Jungfrau Region in limited time::

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Jungfrau Region Train Map

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Option 1: Interlaken Normal TrainZweilütschinen LauterbrunnenNormal TrainKleine Scheidegg Cog wheel TrainJungfraujoch

Option 2: Interlaken ----Normal Train-----Zweilütschinen--------- Grindelwald------Normal Train-----Kleine Scheidegg -----Cog wheel Train----Jungfraujoch

Route we followed : (We travelled from L.B to L.B)

Lauterbrunnen-------Normal Train-----Kleine Scheidegg -----Cog wheel Train-----------Jungfraujoch--------Cog wheel Train----------Kleine Scheidegg-----Normal Train-------Grindelwald------Normal Train-----------Zweilütschinen-------Train------Lauterbrunnen

Important Things to See at the Top :

a.Eismeer Station:: Ice blocks under a blanket of eternal snow, and in the distance the panorama of four thousand metre peaks: This is how the Eismeer station appears at 3,160 metres above sea level. This is where the train stops for five minutes,just before Jungfraujoch station, so that the passengers can take their own personal souvenir picture. What actually lasts five minutes seems like a journey through time lasting many thousands of years: During the last ice age, all of Switzerland must have looked like this mountain.

b. ICE PALACE

c. SPHINX OBSERVATION DECK

d. ICE PLATEAU

VIEW POINTS AT JUNGFRAUJOCH Region

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Is it worth the money?

Many people wonder if the price is worth it. I think it is. The trip to the Jungfraujoch and the experience at the top are truly unique. It's a once in a lifetime experience you should not miss.

Booking in advance ::

Only buy the tickets once you are sure the weather is clear enough to enjoy the view from the Jungfraujoch. It does not make sense to travel up there if you end up in the clouds. If you buy tickets well in advance, make sure the date is flexible.

Tickets can sell out. This usually happens in July and August when many people want to go up on the same day and maximum capacity is reached. It's exceptional, but not unheard of. Once your ticket is dated, you are guaranteed you can access the trains. A seat is not guaranteed but on most days it won't be a problem to find a seat.

There's an option to buy seat reservations for the section from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch. You can consider this on a crowded day as waiting times before boarding might be longer without a reservation.

The part of the journey, particularly, from Klein Scheidegg onwards, is extremely beautiful. So, keep your camera ready to capture every single moment.

The Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass station at an elevation of 2,061 m,in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.

If time permits, at Kleine Scheidegg, cross the rail lines and go into the vast alpine meadow to capture some magnificent landscape photos with gargantuan snow clad mountains at the backdrop, and, if lucky,as I was, a picture perfect shot of a cog wheel train descending against the alpine backdrop could be a delight to a dilettantish photographer and for his assiduous efforts.

Photo of Kleine Scheidegg, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kleine Scheidegg, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kleine Scheidegg, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kleine Scheidegg, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

After spending almost 2.5 hrs. at the top, we came down to Klein Scheidegg,and bought tickets for Grindelwald (CHF 4.33-half fare price).

Apart from Interlaken, Grindelwald is the largest village in the Jungfrau region that can be reached by car. It can be reached by train as well. The town center is situated along the Dorfstrasse, between the main rail station and the First cable car station, about 800m up the road. Outside of the town center, Grindelwald mainly consists of chalets in hilly meadows, spread out across a pretty large area.Grindelwald is one of those places you can visit all year round. In the winter there are lots of snow and winter activities while summertime is perfect for hiking.

After spending like 2 hrs., we headed back to Lauterbrunnen. I know, spending even a week in this scenic village is not enough,but, that's the bargain sometimes needed to be done on account of paucity of time.

All the swiss mountain villages ( like- Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen/Murren(more offbeat)/Wengen) are extremely beautiful . So, spend significant time in atleast one of this villages (in our case-it was lauterbrunnen) rather than hopping on/off everywhere.Please remember that it is not ticking any checkbox rather the experience in itself matters.

Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Grindelwald, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Day 10

Every day in Switzerland was a power packed adventurous day with newer possibilities swarming every nook and corner.From the highs of the mountain to the virgin valleys, it was a treat to the eyes.Being in our late 20's, the kind of restless traveller we are, Switzerland ,simply, overwhelmed us. It was time to bid adieu to one of the most scintillating villages I have ever been to , and head towards our next adventure.

Photo of Luzern, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Luzern, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Early morning around 0630 hrs., I took a train from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken , and Luzern-Interlaken Express from Interlaken to Luzern/Lucerne .It takes around 2 hours to reach to Luzern from Interlaken ost. via Brienz** (Beautiful village in the shores of Lake Brienz) ,Meiringen and Giswil.

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

(**Brienz is located in the middle of charming mountains at the eastern end of turquoise-coloured Lake Brienz. The cosy village is starting point for excursions to the Bernese Oberland, the Ballenberg Open-air Museum but also to Lucerne or Interlaken or across the nearby Alpine passes.Though, we hadn't made any pitstop there, but,it can be part of the itinerary.)

After reaching Luzern,It was time to offload my backpack in the hostel located 5 mins bus ride away from the station.Lion Lodge hostel is in the heart of Lucerne next to Lion Monument,Old Town and a shopping center. The best part was that buses stop at the doorstep of the hotel (Bus Stop-Wesemlinrain ).

Then, I came back to the lucerne station to board the Luzern-Engelberg Express for my onward journey to Engelberg.The newly-refurbished coaches of Luzern-Engelberg Express offers a comfortable journey and spectacular views. The train will whisk you in just 47 minutes from the city, past Lake Lucerne and into the Engelberg valley, where you will pass through delightful villages nestling at the foot of increasingly steep and lofty mountains.

Photo of Lion Lodge Luzern AG, Zürichstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lion Lodge Luzern AG, Zürichstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

After reaching the engelberg station, first thing was to buy tickets for excursion into Mt.Titlis region,high up there in the mountains from the engelberg valleys.(Engelberg to Titlis Region-Ticket price is 46 CHF with a half fare card.)

How to go to Mt. Titlis from Engelberg and allied activities ::

The route from Engelberg train station to the TITLIS valley station takes just ten minutes on foot or you can hop on to the free shuttle bus plying from just outside the station.

From the valley station, a 8-seater Titlis Xpress gondola cable car gallops you to a midway station at Stand (also known as Trubsee).Now, before going for the next part of the gondola ride, I would advise you to take at least 1 hour to explore this mid station named trubsee.

Photo of Trübsee, Wolfenschiessen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Trübsee, Wolfenschiessen, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Trübsee is an intermediate cable car station by the Titlis Bergbahnen, Trüebsee is an Alpine lake on the Ober Trüebsee Alpine pasture in the upper part of the extensive municipality of Wolfenschiessen in the Swiss canton of Nidwalden. The lake lies at the foot of the Titlis above the village resort of Engelberg.Trübsee is one of the loveliest mountain lakes in Europe along with a very scenic easy walk along the lake loop.In Summer, you can rent a rowing boat to explore the Trübsee.

The Titlis revolving cable car takes you up to the mountain station at 3020 meters from the middle station.

Activities at the Titlis ::

a.An amazing view of a high alpine world of rocks and snow;

b.The 'Ice Flyer' chairlift allows you to 'fly' over the glacier and see it up close. The fare is not included in standard cable car tickets to the Titlis. The lift takes you to the Glacier Park, where you can enjoy the snow using snow tubes, sledges and more. This is the place to go to for guaranteed snow.

c.You can take a walk into the Glacier Cave; a tunnel in the ice of the glacier;

d.The Titlis Cliff Walk is a spectacular suspension bridge to see the mountains from a different perspective;

e.There are several shops and restaurants for buying souvenirs.

Photo of Titlis Mountain Station, Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Titlis Mountain Station, Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Titlis Mountain Station, Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Titlis Mountain Station, Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Titlis Mountain Station, Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Engelberg is an alpine village in central Switzerland. After coming down from the mountain top, I took out some time to photograph the magnificent village of 'Engelberg' , situated at the base of Mt.Titlis, starting point of multiple adventure activities , which is surrounded by lofty mountains. These villages are so beautiful that even wallpaper will be put to shame. Wherever you look around , it is endowed with nature's bounty; justifying the attention it draws from the tourist community world wide.

Photo of Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Engelberg, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Following the same route, we came back to Lucerne around 6'o clock in the evening.As because we are more nature enthusiast than cityscape , we hadn't allocated too much of a time for lucerne. Depending on your inclination, it can be customized.

Nestled between a backdrop of towering mountains and a sparkling lake, Lucerne (called Luzern in German) is one of Switzerland’s most visited cities. Offering a host of things to see and do, Lucerne makes a wonderful holiday destination.

Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland :: (✔-What we have done)

a. Chapel Bridge

b. Old Town Lucerne

c. The Jesuit Church of Lucerne

d. Cruises on Lake Lucerne

e. Lakeside Promenade

f. Mt. Pilatus/Rigi excursion from Lucerne (Been at Mt.Titlis)

Being an Indian, It was difficult to survive on the bovine meals for two weeks.So, time to time,whenever got an opportunity, We savoured Indian Delicacies, a tad bit costly but to no avail. In luzern, Kanchi Restaurant came to our rescue for the night.

Photo of Lucerne, Main station, Zentralstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lucerne, Main station, Zentralstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lucerne, Main station, Zentralstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lucerne, Main station, Zentralstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Lucerne, Main station, Zentralstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Day 11

Zermatt lies at the foot of the Matterhorn. The town's touristic development is closely linked to what is most probably the world's one of the most famous mountain. The vacation destination is a car-free zone, has preserved its original character and offers nearly unlimited possibilities as far as excursions are concerned.

It takes around 3.5 hours by train to reach Zermatt Bahn station from Lucerne with intermediate changes at Bern and Visp.(Train ticket price is 57.5 CHF per person with a half fare card)

Luzern ➳➳train➳➳ Bern ➳➳train change➳ ➳Visp➳➳train change➳➳➳➳ Zermatt.

Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Hotel Bahnhof is located just outside the zermatt train station. As their website cites- "At the foot of the Matterhorn we go our own ways. For over 100 years, we have hosted people from all over the world - and offer our guests a home that also feels like one. With a lot of tradition, history and modern comfort. Right next to the Gornergratbahn, which travels from the hostel to the hiking or skiing area. So that you too are well prepared to discover your personal path."

The Gornergrat (3,089 m) is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. The mountain panorama and the glorious view of the Matterhorn are unforgettable.The cogwheel train from Zermatt to the Gornergrat is part of the fun. The ride takes about half an hour. It starts at an altitude of 1605 m and ends at 3090 m on the Gornergrat ridge. The train crosses forests and a high alpine landscape later on, and stops in four different stations along the way. Each of these stations is a great starting point for hiking (Ticket price is 57 CHF per person with a half fare card).

Once you reach the Gornergrat, you will have an amazing view of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif. There is a hotel, a restaurant, and plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the scenery.

Remember ::

Check the weather forecast as there's no point in going up if the Gornergrat and the surrounding mountains are covered in clouds. Dress in multiple thinner layers so that you can adapt to the different temperatures throughout the day.

Special Mention ::(If you are lucky enough)

The Riffelseeweg trail officially starts at the Rotenboden station (one stop below Gornergrat), with a short walk to the Riffelsee lake, where you can get the famous reflection of the Matterhorn in its calm waters. The trail then continues past the lake, down and around to Riffelberg (3 km), where you can catch the train back to Zermatt.

I would suggest that while coming down from the Gornergrat, alight from the train at Rotenboden station for a spectacular view of 'Matterhorn' and if interested, hike down to the lake for adventure.

Photo of Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Day 12

Montreux can be classified as a stylish, elegant town. The location on Lake Geneva guarantees lots of sunshine (on average!). There's plenty of nightlife with a casino (the oldest in Switzerland), nightclubs and bars. The Lake Geneva region is known for its vineyards and the wide choice of very good restaurants. The mild climate and atmosphere in Montreux and neighbouring town Vevey is the reason that this region is often referred to as the 'Swiss Riviera'. Montreux is also known for the famous Chillon castle and Promenade.

a.Lakeside Promenade ✔

b. Chillon Castle ✔

It takes around 2.5 hours by train to reach Montreux Gare station from Zermatt with intermediate change at Visp.(Train ticket price is 13 CHF per person with a half fare card)

Zermatt ➳➳train change➳➳➳Visp➳➳train ➳➳➳Montreux.

The family-run Hôtel de Chailly is located in the hills above Montreux, 2 km from the town centre and 2 km from Geneva Lake. Local buses are available from outside the train station for Chailey village(15 mins bus journey).

Photo of Hôtel de Chailly, Route des Châtaigniers, Montreux, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Hôtel de Chailly, Route des Châtaigniers, Montreux, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Hôtel de Chailly, Route des Châtaigniers, Montreux, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

After checking into the hotel, we took the same route and deboarded at a place named 'Clarens' (Before Montreux Gare station) to catch a train for 'Cully' Village, which took us around 20 odd minutes to reach.

Taking a walk through some of the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland: the UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyard terraces are criss-crossed with marked trails with stunning views over Lake Geneva and the Alps.

Photo of Cully, Bourg-en-Lavaux, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Cully, Bourg-en-Lavaux, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

Carefully cultivating their vines for generation upon generation, whole families of vine-growers have shaped these beautiful vineyard terraces. The unique beauty of this landscape has seeped into the soul of visitors just as it has fascinated the many artists who lived in the little picturesque villages.

Day 13

As I was standing at Montreux Gare Station to catch a train for Geneva Airport Station ( 1hr 20 mins,17 CHF),tons of memory were crowding my mind. Has it ever happened that both diametrically opposite feelings are felt at the same time? The joy of satisfaction from execution of a well thought out plan to the sadness of an end to a dream trip- a dichotomy was reigning in my mind. A special mention to this part of the journey, which was alongside the lake Geneva, offering some breathtaking views of Swiss Riviera- an embellishing end to our euro sojourn.

Photo of Genève Aéroport (GVA), Route de l'Aéroport, Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland by Biswanath banerjee

We had flights of Ukraine International to fly back to Delhi via Kiev, Ukraine.(Please ensure web-check of Ukraine International Flights , otherwise, you may run the risk of being put at standby)

8. Detailed Expenditure ::

Photo of Eudaimonia in Europe: A Gallivanter's Guide for a Memorable EURO trip by Biswanath banerjee

Epilogue ::

A passionate traveller lives through experiences and not by years. Exploring the distant unknown lands forces you to live on the edges, to scour the underneath feelings, throws an opportunity to let go of the veneering and face the real self. Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. –all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

Keep Wandering.................Keep Wondering...........................

3 Comment(s)
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What a brilliantly well documented read. took us back to our trips and inspired us for a few more. Well done
Thu 10 31 19, 12:58 · Reply (1) · Report
thanks a ton.. appropriates my efforts
Sun 11 24 19, 23:11 · Report
Good read, well documented, like a report
Tue 09 10 19, 10:19 · Reply (1) · Report
thank you
Sun 11 24 19, 23:11 · Report
Janar majhe ojana k.... korechi sandhan....
Thu 09 05 19, 01:27 · Reply · Report
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