I have travelled fairly a lot but never so as a backpacker. My Europe visit was not limited to WordCamp Europe 2016 in Vienna. I mentioned in my earlier posts about that. Europe is, without question, one of the most beautiful places. Rich in scenic and architectural beauty, I am happy I could immerse myself in the splendor of the place; even if only for a few days.
Post WCEU, Yam, Suren, Kosish and myself turned into backpacker(s) and set on our way to Venice. We traveled by overnight train. My only memory of an overnight train is that of a college trip to India way back in 2002. Super excited, we reached the station before time. Alas, it was empty. That’s almost a lesson in punctuality-you reach on time…not later but not sooner as well. So we went to a nearby restaurant to pass the time. Later at the station, we found ourselves a little lost. There were so many platforms. Nevertheless, we got on our train promptly. The compartment I booked had 6 beds. It looked small, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in comfort. Clean, systematic and quiet, I was comparing it to what I could recollect of the Indian train, and the experience was by far outmatched.
After a 12-hour long ride on the train, the most part of which I slept, we reached Venice. The door opened and the river in front of us seemed to say, “Welcome to Venice – The city of Canals.” I tried to Uber, and thought, “Taxis with wheels don’t run here!” Then we spotted a boat with a bright yellow sign that said “TAXI”. They did have taxis, they were water taxis. We hopped in and asked the boat pilot if he could take us to Hotel Riviera. He asked for directions from the locals and a while later dropped us on the bank of the hotel. He even told us there was a beach nearby, so we looked forward to it.
We entered and told the staff about our reservations. The reply we heard? “This is not your hotel.” Our eyes widened and then narrowed as we took notice that the hotel I had booked—Hotel Riviera dei Dogi—was on a completely different island, Mira. We learned the place was quite far from there, about an hour away. We even had a tour package booked for noon. So, we the good backpacker(s), decided to take the tour first. We had pizzas, obviously, for lunch. And I was so hungry that I didn’t have the time to relish the taste and engulfed it. It definitely made me feel good, though.
The boat tour, encircled us around three places – Murano, Burano and Torcello. The attraction was definitely the colorful houses besides the river in Burano. I could not keep my eyes off them. Later, we took a transportation day pass which covered boats and buses. Our smartphones weren’t so smart without access to the internet. It was a day of exploration: with no Google Maps to guide us, we guided ourselves. Traditional backpacker travelers, you see. Later that night, as we were stepping out of a bus at where we thought was Mira, the bus driver called out, “Get inside!” Apparently, that wasn’t Mira, again. Thanks to the bus driver. Otherwise it would’ve been another adventure—stranded in a place unknown.
The next morning, we suppressed our desires to go by bus and booked a taxi. We didn’t want to get late for our flight. A noon tour package for Paris awaited us. At the airport, Kosish was delayed by the officials. As much as we wanted to we couldn’t wait for him. I gave him one each of the tour booking tickets and hotel booking tickets and made our way. He made his way through the security check, but couldn’t find tickets. That’s what I learned—if you’re travelling by budget airlines, reach on time. Even the bookings aren’t 100% sure as the planes can get overbooked. We got on the plane and a little before the flight ascended, entered Kosish, face glowing with relief. The weird kind of luck he has!
The 1 hr 40 mins long flight passed in a jiffy and quite sometime of traffic congestion later we checked in at Campanile Paris est – Porte de Bagnolet. A quick freshening up later, we hopped into the bus for our noon tour and we are taken for a 1.5 hour long ride through the city. Our stay there was a day too short, so we wanted to see as much as possible. Next we reached The Eifel Tower—the (most)major attraction. And our luck backfired. Eifel Tower was closed that day. However, I’m happy we at least saw it from nearby. Our view from Tour Montparnasse was exquitsite, unobstructed and the cleanly laid city so perfect, it took my breath away.
Paris, as I found it, is a beautiful city. Crowded yet with open roads, but the drivers no lesser than that in Kathmandu—chaotic. We took a boat tour again, wading through Seine River, seeing the major attractions. Our time was compact, so were our tour packages.
The next day was when my few days as a backpacker would come to an end. We were on our flight back home. I really thank Qatar Airways for the more than comfortable travelling experience I had. The membership provided me with priority checking, lounge access, next to no waiting time and unlimited refreshments. I also traveled by the A380 Airbus, upstairs. How cool is that? The business class upgrade I received was luxurious and I definitely recommend regular travelers to get a membership in Qatar Airways.
Finally, my days as a backpacker in Europe have ended. I had a wonderful experience, the memories of which I shall fondly recollect my coming days. WordCamp Europe 2016 triggered this superb journey. The trip was hectic, with us walking close to 16 km per day, according to my iWatch. Seems like my comparing this with The Amazing Race wasn’t really an exaggeration, after all. I would do a circuit like this all over again, albeit in a different place. I have shared with you the photographs of my travel below.
Please feel free to tell me what I could have done/visited more. I will definitely try your suggestions the next time I visit.