Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living life to its fullest..!

Have you ever wondered how it would be traveling across Europe backpacking?
Have you ever wondered how it would feel meeting strangers daily, living with them, talking to them, trekking with them, exchanging information, emails etc..?
Do you ever ponder how you would react if you were alone traveling to a new country, to a new city every couple of days?
Do you wonder how it would be to stay at a hostel in a dorm with new people day after day, getting to know them, understanding their thought process and their way of life?
How it would feel to land in a new city, understand their culture, their language and even their public transport system?
How it would feel to trek at Black forests, jump from a 1000feet cliff, Paraglide, Parasail, ski and sledge in snow, trek at the top of Europe?
Travel on boat buses? Travel through thousands of years of history, culture, wars and turmoil?
How would it feel to drive through wallpaper or a picture postcard, where nature plays with colors and you sit back and enjoy?
Each day, each minute, experience new adventures?

My entire trip encompassed answers to all these and much more…I had set out with a lot of assumptions and expectations, apprehensions and uncertainty. But the entire experience has surpassed each and every expectation, thoroughly enjoyed the uncertainty and found the apprehensions to be unfounded.
Even before I boarded the flight I had imagined my trip, my stay at hostels and the way I would spend my time. But at the end of the day I realized how limited ones imagination could be. My imagination was limited by my experiences, my thought process and what I had seen or read…Only when you actually go through the process of planning a backpacking trip and then executing it will you realize how much the entire experience broadens your horizon. Things you thought were not possible will now seem quite natural…It adds new perspectives…

Daily I used to maintain a diary of what I did, what I went through, people I met, and what I learnt. The diary is full, but when it comes to summarizing, I am finding the diary to be exhaustive and I am struggling to put all those feelings in a single post. I have spent almost a week wondering how to put the gist of my experience in words, but I am finding it humanely impossible to compress all those thoughts. I could just upload my diary, but I really don’t want to bore you guys with all the details.…

Some of the things I really liked were the way people handled themselves, the discipline and the courtesies they follow. They give so much of importance to extra curricular activities that you would be amazed. They are so meticulous about everything that it makes you wonder why we don’t follow them…I can talk for hours about people there and their behavior. The numerous interactions I have had with them have really brought out new perspectives in me. I am truly amazed and impressed with their care free attitude, their priorities and management of time, the way they care about people (even those who are total strangers to them) etc…I have had from very good memories (at places like France, Germany and Netherlands) to not so good ones (like Italy)…But the towns were the best. For instance my visit to Friburg (Germany) was the most unplanned thing and I had absolutely no idea where my hostel was. Generally the first time I land at a new city or town I make sure I reach the place during normal day time so that it is easier to get a map and search around. But at Friburg I landed at around 5.30 AM and I didn’t want to wait, so I just carried on to find my hostel. I met a couple of friendly people (who didn’t even know English), who tried to help me find my way, but I was hopelessly lost. Then I met this girl (who was on her way to the only university in that town) and she went out of her way in helping me. She actually came all the way to my hostel in a tram and dropped me at my hostel. Not many people actually do such things but I was trying to just give an example of the kind of people I met there.
The Americans that I trekked with and the other Europeans from my hostels that I mingled with were no different. It was such a pleasure to meet them. After a point of time I was helping others with their itineraries, explaining the functioning of public transport system etc. Some of them were so impressed that they included me in their plans as if I was part of their family. Some of the activities like the Gondala ride at Venice were possible only because I was part of such larger group…It felt really good.

I loved cycling, especially at Berlin and Amsterdam. With the dedicated lanes, gear and attire required for such a activity its simply lovely…Loved the CafĂ© culture, the sheer choices when it comes to sports activities (which encompasses all sections of the economic strata – from swimming, cycling, rowing to paragliding, parasailing, skiing etc)…

Each city, street and building has so much history behind it that you will be amazed and overwhelmed with information. Even if you are not a history enthusiast you will feel yourself getting immersed in the history prevalent everywhere, you will go out of the way in visiting the numerous museums and even spend extra to get an audio guide. Its never ending but worth every penny, as any number of history books wouldn’t give you such live coverage and complete information.

I could go on and on…I really wholeheartedly feel everyone should do a backpacking trip atleast once in their lifetime. It’s something everyone will enjoy in their own unique way…And its never too late (I actually met a 70 year old scientist from Belgium who was on a backpacking trip of his own)…

Until then if you are interested you can have a look at couple of my videos and snaps. The links are given below…
For a lot better video clarity use any other browser other than IE.. :)

1) Discover why birds sing - Paragliding by Dilip.
I simply loved this experience…:)

2) Snow slide at Mt. Titlis (Swiz)…
You will see mostly snow and my shoes..;)

3) Snow Sledge at Jungfraujoch!
Top of Europe: A small snow sledge ride..

4) Swiss National Day: Aug 1st 09

Video 1:

Video 2:

5) Jungfraujoch - Monchsjoch Hut
The video taken after my trek to the hut from the Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe)...


Check out some snaps @: