Euro trip: A month of solo vagabonding!

Tripoto
1st Jul 2016
Photo of Euro trip: A month of solo vagabonding! by Swati Keshri

It was not easy to plan for a solo trip... I wanted to go with a few friends but nobody was available. However, in the hindsight, I can't thank everyone enough who politely rejected my request :P. So, it all started in Jan 2016. I researched and finally decided to cover Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Czech mainly because this combination offered me a perfect gamut of Renaissance architecture, wonderful Alps, party opportunities and not to mention these were cheaper compared to other parts of Europe. There were other places where I wanted to go but I parked this for next time as I didn't just want to hop from one place to another. So, here the preps went. Since it was a MONTH all by MYSELF I did quite a meticulous planning. Google sheets came handy here. A sample of how I planned below:

Photo of Euro trip: A month of solo vagabonding! 1/1 by Swati Keshri

I got the flight tickets in Feb for the July trip because of 3 main reasons:

1. The airfares are cheaper if you book much in advance.

2. It ensures sufficient time for VISA application and processing. Generally, if you go alone and for a long duration with no past international travel, it's a MUST as VISA processing might take time in such cases (like in my case it took almost a month, normally it takes a week or so)!

3. It's preferable to book inter-city/country bus or train tickets much in advance as the prices are dynamic and are much cheaper if bought a month in advance. Since these low-cost tickets sell fast and are generally non-refundable, it's better to get VISA quickly post which you can start the bookings.

So, here the journey begins ......

Day 1

I landed in Rome on 1st Jul'16 in the evening and was a bit anxious and fraught as now the "solo" was getting better out of me... Nevertheless, I met two wonderful roommates on the first day itself which eased the environment …

Day 2

Rome is a typical capital city and one of the oldest cities in the world. It has many past ruins notable among them, is the Colosseum and Roman Pantheon. I spent just a day there and headed for Rimini.

Must visit places: Colosseum, Borghese gallery

Day 3

Rimini: It is a small beach city and a must go if somebody is looking for a less touristy but amazing beaches!

Must visit places: Beach Augusto 38, Tiberius bridge, Gelataria la romana (For the best Gelato!)

Photo of Rimini, Province of Rimini, Italy by Swati Keshri
Day 4

For the famous Grotto di Frasissi caves. As an added bonus, one can also visit museum which comes free with the cave pass.

Photo of Grotte di Frasassi - Parcheggio e Biglietteria, Località Palombare Ferro, San Vittore, Province of Ancona, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Museo Speleopaleontologico, San Vittore, Province of Ancona, Italy by Swati Keshri
Day 5

For amazing renaissance art. Do visit Fiesole once done with the museums! I spent 3 days here and it was completely worth it!

Must visit places: Uffizi, Pitti palace, Bardini and Boboli gardens, Oltrarno, Palazzo Vecchio, Fiesole

Photo of Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Swati Keshri
Day 8

If you are in Italy you have to marvel at the beauty of one of the seven wonders in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. So, here I was relishing my childhood dreams ????. Do taste the mouth-watering ravioli here offered by multiple restaurants in the area.

Photo of Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Province of Pisa, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Province of Pisa, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Province of Pisa, Italy by Swati Keshri
Day 9

For the famous Cinque terre trek (5 lands trek)!! It’s beneficial to buy their 1 day/2 days trek + train card as it covers both entrance to the park + multiple to and fro train tickets between the five vividly coloured beautiful villages located on cliffs overlooking the sea.

Photo of Vernazza, Province of La Spezia, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Corniglia, Province of La Spezia, Italy by Swati Keshri
Day 10

Do visit Murano for famous glass art and Burano to see colourful houses :D. All these are covered in 1/2/3 day passes for Vaporetto. Witness the serenity of Venice by taking the slow Gondola ride.

Must visit place: Murano, Burano, Saint Mark's basilica, Duomo

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Swati Keshri
Photo of Murano, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Swati Keshri

Venice marked end of my trip in Italy. I headed to Vienna(capital of Austria) after Italy.

Day 12

It boasts of many architectural marvels belonging to Austrian royalty which is part of Unesco world heritage site. Some scenes in “Bulleya” song featuring Aishwarya and Ranbir are shot in Schonbrunn palace in Vienna. If time permits, one can also go for a day trip to Bratislava which is just an hour away!

Photo of Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, Vienna, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, Vienna, Austria by Swati Keshri
Day 13

Budapest: It is simply amazing! The city has many wonderful bridges separating Buda(hilly) and Pest(plain) districts. It’s pretty cheap and extremely walkable. One of the best things to try in Budapest is chimney cake! It’s simply amazing! After spending 3 days in Budapest, it was time to say bye to this wonderful city! From hereon I voyaged to Bruck Mur in Austria.

Must Visit Places: Fisherman Bastion, Ruin Pubs, Central Market Hall, Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Photo of Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Szentháromság tér, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Photo of Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Szentháromság tér, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Photo of Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Szentháromság tér, Hungary by Swati Keshri
Day 16

It's a small village in Austria. I chose to go there for the famous Gruner see lake in which an entire park gets submerged during spring. However, I was not able to visit the lake because I reached there late :-/ . Anyways, locals consoled me by saying that this is not the “right” time to go to the lake :P.

Photo of Bruck an der Mur, Austria by Swati Keshri
Day 17

For beautiful Carinthia lakes! Do get a cycle and explore the lake. It’s an amazing ride covering a stretch of nearly 30 km.

Day 18

Obviously the Mozart city can’t be missed! One can find many Mozart themed plays, opera and chocolates throughout the city.

Must visit place: Fortress Hohensalzburg

Photo of Salzburg, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Salzburg, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Salzburg, Austria by Swati Keshri
Day 19

Sigh!! It’s a fairyland. No kidding at all. It’s a small village in Alps of Austria and shouldn’t be missed at all! There are ice caves and amazing view points here. It doesn’t comes under Unesco world heritage site for no reason!

Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Swati Keshri
Day 20

This is again a small village. I went there because it has world’s largest ice caves. It doesn’t disappoint for sure. However, since photography is not allowed.... no photos! :P. Apart from ice caves, there is a fort here too which can be explored if time permits.

Day 21

Too many hiking and trekking trails here. Though majority of Austria is in Alps, this city being in Tyrol state is nestled by Alps from all the directions. I spent good 5 days here as I wanted to explore the city in detail mainly the many amazing hiking trails. Here, I also got the chance to watch free orchestra performances as part of Innsbruck festival :’). The Innsbruck card covers many attractions, public transport and cable cars to few of the peaks and is a value for money.

Must visit places: Ambras castle, Hofburg, Nordkette, Patscherkofel

Photo of Innsbruck, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Innsbruck, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Innsbruck, Austria by Swati Keshri
Photo of Swarovski Kristallwelten, Kristallweltenstraße, Wattens, Austria by Swati Keshri
Day 26

Well….. well! It’s a painting! Stand near the Charles bridge during sunset(or in fact during any time of the day!) and you’ll swear by my words! The cobblestone road gives the entire city a vintage but beautiful look!Sigh! Just a word of caution: Charles bridge is hypnotising, so don’t spend too much time there ;). If you plan going there during Jul-Aug, you’ll be able to see beautiful performances which are organised as part of Prague summer festival where people from other European and even some Asian countries come to showcase their folk dances! No matter where you go; you’ll find one or the other dance performances happening.

Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Prague, Czechia by Swati Keshri
Photo of Kutna Hora, Czech Republic by Swati Keshri
Day 30

It's a quaint city known mainly for the Vatican museum. It’s immmmeeensse! No words to describe the grand and intricate architecture inside. A must visit for an art lover.

Photo of Vatican City by Swati Keshri
Photo of Vatican City by Swati Keshri
Photo of Vatican City by Swati Keshri
Photo of Vatican City by Swati Keshri

From here, I came back to Rome and again back to India. It was special in many sense, first it was my first solo trip that too in foreign land and that too for a month :’).

Secondly, I met many amazing folks during my journey who helped me without even being asked and inspired me to keep on circulating the kindness which they bestowed on me when I badly needed it.

Thirdly and most importantly, it broadened my horizon and helped me overcome few of my fears :)

Certain important things to take care of while planning:

1. Travel light and keep sufficient empty space in your bags to bring in loads of souvenirs ????.

2. Try to book hostels in place of hotels if you are travelling solo. Generally, all the hostels have good breakfast buffet options at an affordable pricing. You can try hostelworld.com. As an added advantage, you also meet other like minded youths from other countries and can travel together (I did this in almost all the cities).

3. Every city has a travel and/or attraction card. These are value for money if you plan beforehand on the places to visit with timings. These are available online or at airport/railway stations.

4. Buy the main attraction/experiences tickets in advance online from the official sites. It saves lots (an hour and above) of time.

5. If you are on a tight budget, try couchsurfing which allows for free stays. It's also a wonderful way to stay and learn about the culture from locals.

6. Carry a colour laminated photocopy of passport and carry that always in your daypack. Carrying original might be risky because of theft possibility.

7. Carry at least two forex cards. If one doesn't work/misplaced, you have a second one (my HDFC card got stuck in the ATM and then I used my AXIS one).

All the best to you if you are planning one soon :D.

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