As a traveller, adventure crusader and restaurateur, it’s always exhilarating to plan a much-awaited trip to Europe. From the so-called tedious procedures of obtaining a Schengen visa, to all the credentials required to contrive a trip to Europe, planning an itinerary for the trip alone manages to escalate the excitement. I made life pretty simple by reading up travel blogs and getting equipped with the requisites to make this trip possible. After my homecoming from the world’s largest country, Russia, I decided to venture into the antiquity of Poland, Italy and the quaint border of Switzerland.
A 12-hour pleasant flight from Bengaluru to Warsaw via Dubai allowed me a peek into this strife-pounded country from World War II and the Nazi regime. The transition has been tremendous, and as opposed to our clichéd assumptions, the Polish are cordial and delightful. Starting from the Old Town of Warsaw established in the 13th century, to its transformation into streets filled with entertainment, restaurants and bars, Warsaw’s Old Town has been placed on the Unesco’s list of world heritage sites as a wonderful example of a near total reconstruction of a span of history, covering the 13th to the 20th century. Moving forward, I visited the larger than life Palace of Culture and Science that was constructed in 1955. This marvel is a notable high-rise in Warsaw that you just cannot miss. It’s the center for various cultural activities and academies of Poland. I couldn’t leave without a pinup on my lens.
Instead of heading to the commercial hub of Krakow, I decided to hop onto a train from the historic Warsaw train station to Wroclaw, in hand a first-class train ticket, costing about Rs 1,300. Wroclaw is the largest city in western Poland. It became a part of the country after border changes during World War II. It’s known for its institutions, student population and buzzing nightlife around the town centre, and you can make your life easier by walking. The Wroclaw Town Hall at the market square, and several other monuments will keep you curious. From pre-drinking bars serving shots at Rs 100 to fancy Spanish and commercial nightclubs, Wroclaw has a bit of everything.
After four days in Poland, with pre-booked air tickets to Milan, it was Bergamo-borne. Smaller towns and cities in Italy reflect the charm of this gastronomical trail. As a foodie, you always want to dig into some traditional delicacies like pierogi, golabki and tatar made of the most flavoursome meat from around the country. Not to forget the variety of kielbasa available off the shelf or at the restaurants. In Milano, as the Italians call it, a greeting of buongiorno or good day made one feel welcome.
Grabbing a bite at Salsamenteria di Parma, with Italian wine served as the gnocchi and fresh baked bread with an assortment of dried meats satiated hunger pangs. A stroll into the fashion capital of the world and the golden quadrilateral to experience haute couture and discounts, I ended up at the Magnificent Milan Cathedral, which left me spellbound. One of the world’s largest cathedrals, it apparently took six centuries and thousands of workers to complete.
With dime a dozen trains and buses to Switzerland, or to the border at Lake Lugano, a place on my eternal bucket list, this city has expensive hotels and it was an overnight at Lake Lugano and even take a dip in the scorching (ha!) European summer. My most memorable pictures will keep me enthused for a long time — one with beautiful swans swimming, almost extinct crayfish, Lake Lugano is truly worthwhile and memorable.
— The writer is a restauranteur, entrepreneur and intrepid solo traveller. His travel blog Instagram (onebillionmiles) is a storehouse of travel experiences