This article is an account of our enthusiastic traveller Suzanne and her friend’s Suzan and Neeshma’s journey to Europe.
Like many, I too wanted to see Europe someday. Just the thought that I could visit the continent in my early twenties, meant a big deal. I, along with my two best friends since college decided to go on an all girl’s tour. We had just enough savings to be able to afford the trip. But all the fun and the adventure we had, made the trip worth it.
For the trip planning, we reached out to Pickyourtrail. My first interaction was with Agni from the Sales team. He helped us choose the right places and affordable flights so the trip could come within our budget. The itinerary was well planned and we were quite satisfied. Jaideep helped us with our visa application process. And then during the trip, Saradha and team were available online throughout the day for any kind of assistance and that made us feel safe and secure in the faraway continent.
I would recommend Pickyourtrail for all vacation seekers who enjoy planning out a trip for themselves and not go for a typical package tour where the scope of customization is minimal. Tours like these let you explore places at your own pace without having to go in a group of strangers. You even get to choose hotels at comparable rates from a list of handpicked hotels right from the website.
The team was very understanding of our needs and we are very grateful to PYT for helping us on this beautiful trip. Read on to know how we did it.
Chapter 1: Romance with Rome
We travelled from Mumbai to Rome by Turkish Airlines. The airlines gave us the best rates (around 40k for a round trip) and we had a very comfortable flight. We got transferred to Neeshma’s aunt’s house in a cab arranged by PYT. Since we were tired after an entire day’s travel, we decided to relax for the day and recharge ourselves for the long day that was coming up.
The next day we went to the Vatican City. We were glad that we booked a skip-the-line guided tour, a great escape from standing in long queues. Our guide Christa was a lovely lady. She showed us the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a three-hour long tour but we were carried away by the artworks on display and the stories behind them. Christa’s wonderful narration brought the attractions to life. After that, we did some quick shopping from a souvenir store and treated ourselves with Gelatos. It’s a must-have for anyone travelling to Italy. The cream just melts on your taste buds.
The same evening, we took an ATAC bus to the Colosseum and entered the historical amphitheatre with our 48 Hour-Roma passes. Roma passes are cards that offer transport and museum entry in Rome.
Interesting read: Top things to do in Rome for history buffs
After we were done, we went to the Roman Forum, which was close by.
That night we went to some of the most popular places in Rome like the Spanish steps, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that anyone who throws a coin in the fountain is destined to return to Rome someday. You can guess what we did there. 😉
The only regret about visiting these places was that we went a bit late in the night when the crowd had died down. The best time to visit these places is just after the sun sets. The streets laden with tourists is what you should look out for. When in Rome, just walk, walk and walk, savouring the centuries of history lingering in the city.
Our Rome tour came to an end. The next day, we boarded a train to Napoli.
Chapter 2: Basking in the serenity of Sorrento
We took a long distance train from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale. From there, we rode on the Circumvesuviana which is similar to a local train in India. We got down at Sant’Agnello where a hotel was booked for us. Totally exhausted from our journey, we decided to have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant itself. That was our first hotel dining experience in Europe because Beena Aunty had taken care of our food while we were in Rome.
I’d like to believe we chose some of the popular dishes for ourselves but none pleased our taste buds. We now have a profound respect for Indian Masalas!
The following day we took a bus to Sorrento’s main square, Piazza Tasso. We were to visit the Amalfi Coast that day. So we bought a 24-hour SITA bus Pass. Sita Buses link Sorrento to Positano, Amalfi, and the other towns along the Amalfi Coast. It’s the perfect Hop-on Hop-off provider if you want to discover the Amalfi coastline on road inexpensively. We got down at Positano first.
Positano is a vibrant coastal town, probably the most popular in the Amalfi coastline. The beach is a pebble type and is usually crowded. But we didn’t really spend time on the beach. We went thrift shopping instead.
The shopping street in Positano was one of the best we had ever seen.
We grabbed a few Pizza slices for lunch and then set off to Praiano. I wanted to visit the Furore di Fiord but somehow we ended up in the Gavitello beach.
It’s a beautiful place to sit and relax. You can even swim in the waters. But you will have to climb down a whole lot of stairs to reach the pebble beach, like 500 and also climb back, which is also very exhausting. Then, we visited the Amalfi Beach, a sight worth seeing. We wanted to go to Ravello too, but we dropped the plan as it was getting late. By evening, we sat down on the bus back to Sorrento.
The next day we took a ferry to Capri from Marina Piccola, Sorrento. From there we booked an island tour. On the ferry, we went around the island spotting many beautiful sites along the way including Faraglioni, the tunnel of love as it’s called.
But, the main highlight of the tour was the Blue Grotto – a gorgeous sea cave in Capri, Italy.
After the tour, we bought the famous Limoncello from the island. Now, if you are going to try that yellow coloured liquor, don’t take in more than a sip for the first time. The thing burns like fire!
Wonderful read: Indian food in Italy – Top Indian restaurants in Italy
And then, there were the famous Capri bells that we bought as souvenirs. We took a local bus to Anacapri where we hopped on the chairlift to Mount Solaro.
It was a really good experience. We could view the island surrounded by the sea from the top. It was spellbinding. The buses to and from Anacapri are not very frequent. We had to wait for 30-45 minutes for the buses. There are other hop-on-hop-off tours offered on the island but they’ll cost more. If you are not in a hurry, do use the local buses.
By evening, we returned to Sorrento by ferry.
Chapter 3: An ethereal place called Venice
Interesting read: 9 top things to do in Venice for that exotic holiday
When I landed in Venice, I felt like I had reached a movie set. The very existence of such a city that stands on islands in a lagoon connected by hundreds of bridges and canals, was unbelievable. Though Venice is sinking, it still stands there braving the oceans with pride and grandeur.
We took the water bus to the dock nearest to our hotel. But it wasn’t near enough. We dragged our luggage through the streets and over-the-canal bridges before we reached our hotel. People dragging their luggage on the streets was a common sight in Venice because there are literally no vehicles on road!
In the evening, we walked across Venetian alleyways and busy shopping streets till St.Mark’s square. On our way back we treated ourselves with delicious dinner from an Italian Restaurant.
The next day we took the three island Tour by Aliguna Company. We visited Murano, Burano and Torcello. In Murano, we saw a very interesting demonstration in one of the glass factories.
Burano was the prettiest island with all the colourful houses and lush lawns. Torcello, a sparsely populated island, had very old buildings and a church which we skipped visiting.
The next day, we took the water taxi from Venice till the airport. Hell, it was a bumpy ride. The rough currents made sure of that. In the next few hours, we reached our final destination, Praha.
Chapter 4: Exploring the timeless Prague
There’s a reason for Prague to be called the fairytale land. We were in awe since the moment we entered the city. The wide roads lined with street lights along its edges and the magnificent buildings were a beauty to watch. We went to the Charles Bridge or the Karlov Most as it is commonly known there, the night we reached Prague. The Prague Castle was shimmering in the night and it looked magical.
The subsequent day we went to the famous Old town square. The centrepiece of the square is the Astronomical clock that adorns the elegant tower of Old Town Hall. But unfortunately, the tower was under restoration then.
We visited the Jewish Synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery before we headed to the Prague Castle. The castle complex is on a hill and the climb was tiring. We spent the rest of the day there. In the evening, we walked till the famous John Lennon Wall digging in our Trdelniks, a sugar-coated tubular cake popular in Prague.
Our final day of the trip was overwhelming. We had booked a tour to Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO heritage site some 180 Kms away from Prague. Luckily, no one else had booked the same tour that day. So, it was more of a private tour. Before we started off with the trip, our guide took us for lunch to one of the oldest and the biggest breweries in town, the erstwhile Eggenberg restaurant. The residential buildings, markets, and the chateau with its beautiful gardens were all lovely. We took the Castle tour which seemed quite interesting. They had recreated the rooms from the times before and after Renaissance.
That evening we returned to Prague and shopped till we exhausted all our cash & the coin resources. We had enough coins collected from those three days alone!
Inspiring read: For gutsy girls – travel guide to Italy
As all good things come to an end, the time had come for us to return to our homeland. We took our return flight to Mumbai the following day and thus ended our first Euro trip. The trip and the beautiful memories it gave us will remain with us forever. This trip had brought us three together after a very long time. It was a great opportunity to understand more about each other. It was fun exploring the grown-up side of ours. We had the perfect vacation in a timeless continent. We came across history, nature and culture of Europe in their best forms.
We strongly recommend an all-girls tour to every girl out there. You need not worry about safety. At least, in the cities, we travelled to. We believe the rest of Europe is safe too.
- When you are travelling during early spring, an umbrella and a good jacket are must-haves.
- Wear comfortable shoes and spare your feet from the pain of walking several miles a day.
- Travel light. Don’t pack too much stuff. Especially in Venice, you’ll have to drag your luggage for hundreds of meters.
- Carry a universal adapter. Make sure it can be used in the country you’re travelling to. Indian plugs won’t work in Europe without an adapter.
- When you take a ferry to an island, book the return tickets too and note the timings of the last ferry. For example, the last ferry from Capri to Sorrento was around 6-6:30 pm. We would have been stranded on the island if we had missed that.
- If you plan on buying chocolates for your friends back in India, buy something solid. So, it doesn’t melt easily.
- If you are a small group, then one sim card is more than sufficient. Local sim cards are the cheapest options. A data pack and hotspot is all you need to get going.
- Look after your bags and passports. You don’t want to get mugged.
- The Czech Republic uses Czech Koruna as its currency. You can get your Euros/Dollars exchanged at zero-commission exchange offices in Prague. They give the best rates. Some big shops accept Euros too.
- Drinking water does not come for free like we get in India. Buy water from supermarkets if you want the best price. Or alternatively look for drinking water fountains if the place you are travelling to is known to have them.
About the author:
Suzanne is an engineering graduate from Kerala. Hopping from one city to another during her childhood, she has witnessed firsthand, the effect varied cultures have on people’s lives. Presently working with the TATAs, she’s the quintessential millennial consumed by wanderlust and is on the lookout for vacations that can add meaning to her life. She aims to spend the little fortunes she earns globe-trotting with her loved ones and has a personal goal of setting foot on all seven continents before she turns 30.
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