Not cause I dreamt of romancing in the Alps when I saw all those Yash Raj flicks – that was never going to be my cup of tea. Heroines in chiffon sarees and halter neck blouses in temperatures of 10 degrees and below – who were they kidding? (But I have friends who still have those fantasies in this day and age – sigh!)
But I did see how gorgeous you looked wrapped in green, white and blue. Rains , sunshine, rainbows, snow, rivers, lakes – you gave credence to my belief that God has his favourites. You certainly seemed to be his.
Mom loves you too. She always wanted to visit you; and she did before me, guilty as much as she felt going without me – my studies never granted me that long a vacation. Didi moving to London was a blessing. Mum first met you in 2003 and has now been there thrice. She raved about her first London-Paris trip so much that I knew I had to see you soon.
I finally did in 2007 and what an eventful start to that trip I had. One of my best holidays – Scotland – my school’s home country, the Highlands and the Lochness , the Edinburgh Castle, the Whisky Tour, the streets I’ll never forget. And London – you remind me of my Mumbai, especially South Mumbai where I grew up. When I stepped in first, I knew it was the beginning of many more trips to see you,I promised myself I’d come more often – you are so worth the visit everytime.
Then 3 years later in 2010 MDH and I took our first self-planned trip. Hotel hunting, train planning, sight-seeing all on our own – no tour nonsense – just the both of us – 7 cities, 3 countries, 14 days, the bliss and beauty of seeing Europe by train. I know I’ve been lazy and did not pen down my Austria and Prague Chronicles, I must someday.
Salzburg – I fell in love with this city. I can stay there for my entire life. I still can’t pinpoint the exact things I loved about place – but the warmth, the simplicity, the shopping, the Mozart influence, the gothic arts, the small hill in the middle of the city, the memories of Sound of Music, the smiling faces, the ice-creams – oh the best ice-creams I’ve ever had! I’ll come back someday again! Austria you are the hidden true beauty – more than your popular cousin Switzerland. I hope people discover you more.
The people – they told me you all might be rude; but you were just the opposite. Freindly, warm, welcoming, smiling, guiding, playing the perfect hosts. Our hosts at Interlaken – I’ll never forget you – for making me that fresh bread in the morning at 5.00 cause we had to take the first train at 5:45 out of Interlaken to Berne – Zurich – Salzburg, a long 7-hour journey. The smell of that bread is still fresh in the mind.
The greenery, the rains, the chilly weather, the winds hitting your face, not realizing we had walked miles and the legs that would never ache. The old town, the town centre, the small streets, the winding roads, the lake, the cruise, the artists playing down the bridge, the castles, the history, the gothic architecture, the old century charm – you still have it, even in your main towns.
All my life I’ve lived in busy cities among cement cells, surrounded by skyscarpers, lacking greenery, lacking nature – people rushing, people running, no time for themselves, no time to stop and gaze and marvel at nature. You in the little time spent with you taught me to stop, wait, gaze, marvel, breathe and enjoy the true beauty around us.
Last year in July I made the trip to fulfill one of the items on my bucket list. What an experience that was and then made a trip to visit a dear friend in Ireland. Kinvara village in Ireland, about 40 minutes from Galway city. The lovely time spent with family and friends. Lazying around, barbecue, getting wet in the rains, lying on the greeen lawn , no hurry, no rush, no office, no work, no internet, no gadgets – sipping the rain water that fell on my face, soaking in the morning sunshine, listening to the river run past the house – the simple pleasures of life.
6 countries so far, not much covered but hopefully will do more. Europe – you are an addiction now, you have your oddities but I must see you once a year. So we are heading back tomorrow, this time to some more new places – Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Brussels – will soak in some more of your beauty. All you need to do is be wonderful as you have always been to me.