She hardly has any time for peace and quiet. Ranjini Haridas is on the move yet again, this time, for work. In between all the travelling, she finds time for a quick chat about her recent Europe trip. As she begins to share her experiences, one could feel the excitement in her voice, as if was back there again. “I had covered Italy and Central Europe; the trip lasted around 21 days. It started in June and wound up by July. It all began with one of my close friends’ marriage in Czechoslovakia. Once I got the invite, I thought I might as well make it worthwhile and travel around,” she laughs.
“So I started my trip at Budapest, mainly because I’ve heard it is a really beautiful place to party. I was there for three to four days. I stayed at every place for 3 or 4 days with a few exceptions like Naples, where I went just for their pizza and stayed for a day,” Ranjini recalls. It was mostly a solo trip as she took the liberty to experience and experiment the place by taking her own sweet time. “I did not book any room anywhere other than in Budapest. It was more like backpacking with a suit case. Well, I can’t carry a backpack ‘cause of backache,” she jokes.
Ranjini infront of The Leaning Tower of Pisa
“Budapest is well-known for their ruin markets and ruin bars, so I checked them out. I really enjoyed the place. From there, I went to Rome, just because we had all learnt about the place in school. I met my friends there but Rome turned out to be the worst place off all the places I had been. Although it was beautiful, it was really hot. It is a very touristy destination. Also, I made it sure to visit the Vatican.”
From Rome, she travelled to Naples. “Naples was my transit to Positano. Positano, a very upmarket cliffside village, is a very expensive place. I had to take an expensive cab ride to Positano. An hour and a half ride from Naples, it was either a bus ride or cab.”
In between the journey, she picked up work, flew to Abu Dhabi and returned to Florence. “I landed in Bolonia and took a bus to Florence, which is right now, my favourite city. The place has so much soul. Everything there is spot on. Musicians on the street, it is a very animal-friendly place. In fact, all of Europe was animal friendly,” she gushes. “From there, I took a train to Pisa and then, back to Florence. I explored the nightlife and also covered Venice — a tiny, but spectacular city. But when you are alone, it is not a great place; I wished if my boyfriend was with me. The Biennale was going on there and I got a chance to explore it. It was amazing. From Venice, I went to my friend’s wedding — off to Vienna and then Czechoslovakia, all in a day.”
“Being an Indian, travelling to Europe was real fun, because they love Indians. Language was never a problem; it was all about the expressions,” she speaks amid laughter.“I have never ever stayed in hostels; so I decided to check out how these hostels work. I checked out the really expensive ones and the cheapest ones. There, we meet so many people who become lifelong friends. I think anyone travelling to these places must try staying in hostels. I also did a lot walking tours – Europe has a lot of them – to familiarise with the city and explore in detail later.” The trip was also a great learning experience for Ranjini. She says, “I got lost in between and found another solo traveler who went out his way to help me out. Met some really amazing people. It was a test for my backache too. I wish I was 20 again to travel like this; there is so much left to enjoy.”...