Travel has been on my mind since the day I landed in a foreign country. It is something I cautiously enjoy; cautious because I have often been choosy in deciding who I travel with. The year 2013 has simply been phenomenal as far as travel is concerned, even before I landed in Germany in October. By October, the tenth month of the year, I had somehow managed to visit ten states in India. None of these were planned (well, some were…but only in the last moment) and I am still struggling to recall how I financed each of these visits on my own. Travel can consume both time and money; people usually don’t mind the former but the latter pinches you where it shouldn’t. But, all the travel that I did since I came to Germany was tied to a fixed budget as the money used for travel was a product of some meticulous planning, clever negotiation with parents and my own hard work to earn a scholarship that had a decent monthly stipend.
As long as I have known and been fascinated by travel, I have often treated Europe travel package tours or even travelling in a foreign country (especially a European country) with much disdain, doubt and disbelief. Perhaps it is the grapes-are-sour syndrome that has repulsed me or simply the annoyance with the over-hyped European architecture, modernity, its classicism etc. I have read about it in history and geography and often wondered about my education being so Eurocentric. I later learned the politics of its reason but I was still not convinced. I never bothered to research much as I was most definitely convinced that I would never get the chance to visit Europe. I still believe I have the capacity and the ability to afford it but I know I wouldn’t as I still have a lot to invest in travelling all over India.
Life’s unpredictability was highlighted when I got to opportunity of staying in Germany, one of the most advanced countries in the world, for a period of four months. For a moment, I forgot that I have come here with an academic intention. All I could see was I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel Europe. I studied the map and I vaguely linked it to India. The different countries in Europe, to me, resembled the different states in India. Maharashtra, an Indian state, is bigger than Belgium, a European country, for instance. Fascinating stuff, indeed!
It is often said that the best travel stories come from those who never plan. I am afraid I could not follow this ideology during my Europe travel as I was with a limited budget and a limited time-span. Hence, I had to rank countries, cities, places-to-see, things-to-buy etc in descending order. It is an arduous task to perform this act of prioritization. Understandably enough, when you haven’t been to any place around, you cannot possibly dismiss any of them as you do not have any benchmark. Every country has its charm that cannot be taken away from it. But I decided to pick distance-wise. As much as I would have liked to visit Turkey and Greece, I had to give them a miss as they were far from my place of action: Germany.
There is enough to see and learn in Deutschland itself. And I am glad that I could explore much more than what I had bargained for. With the kind help of a wonderful lady (@veerappa), I got the opportunity to visit the hills and valleys of Tübingen . As I panted and puffed my way to the top to have a view of the entire university town, it reminded me of the hill stations of India. Tübingen is a university town, very similar to Münster (my place of stay in Germany) in that aspect. and is known to have one of the oldest universities in Germany spread across the town. I visited a couple of departments and soaked in the heavy cold breeze as I walked along the lanes of this wonderful town.
I continued my travel from Tübingen to Freiburg via Unterjesingen Sandäcker (that’s Germany for you!), a small village town where we stayed for a night. Freiburg was a part of the plan as we intended to visit the Black Forest. One of the most mesmerizing train journeys I undertook was to the Black Forest in the train. I have never seen so much snow and so much whiteness around me as I sit in the train awaiting my destination. I finally landed in Titisee, the closest I got to the Black Forest and was enchanted by not just the snow but also the ice: the lake was frozen and the roads that led to the lake was filled with snow. And so were the railway tracks.
Travel makes you greedy. If you happen to enjoy it, it makes you crave for more. And the lust never ends. It was just the beginning of an insatiable desire for me. I had seen the lovely countryside and it was the perfect culmination of the wondrous city life that I had observed a week ago in two other neighboring countries: Austria and Czech Republic.
To be continued