An Affair with Europe – From Paris to Prague

Last month, when I set foot on European soil for the first time, I experienced something which I had not felt in a long time. That feeling as a child when something as insignificant as a bell or mug could grab your attention.That childlike wonder. I prepared myself to go with a completely open mind. The next couple of weeks gave me a sense of total freedom and tons of memories that will last a lifetime. Would you care to join me as I attempt to live those moments once again?

Hope you guys enjoy it. Stay tuned 🙂

Cheers

Alternative Travel?

I spend way too much time dreaming about exploring new places and I’m certainly not the only one. Unfortunately, it might not always be possible for us to convert these dreams into reality. But what if we could?

It was not until recently that I came to know what Google StreetView could do. I was going to visit Europe in less than a month and had to make hostel reservations. While checking out images on Google, I noticed the ‘StreetView’ feature and decided to click on it. I was amazed to discover that I could navigate through the streets. I spent the next hour roaming the ‘virtual’ streets of Prague with the result that when I physically went there I was able to recognize quite a few streets!

With the rate at which technology is progressing, I wonder if someday, virtual travel might become a reality – where physical presence is not required to explore a place. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that this is a real substitute for what we know as travel, it would merely be an ‘aid’ of sorts allowing you to partially quench the thirst for adventure or maybe even serve as inspiration to get you out on the road. As the saying goes, “Half a loaf is better than none”. Lack of time and money, poor health, old age or any other commitment could no longer be a deterrent.

Personally, I think this has great potential. If you’ve never tried it out, just pick a random street in any place you’d like to visit and let your cursor do the driving.

What do you guys think? Is this something you might consider as an option if available? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Cheers

P.S. I came across this interesting project called HYPERLAPSE Check out the video below.

Inspiring Wanderlust

It seemed a bit odd to publish an introduction a day after I made an actual blog entry. Nevertheless, better late than never.

To be honest, I have always been a bit reserved when it comes to posting publicly on social networking sites. I never felt the need to put myself out there, I suppose that is attributable to the fact that I was indifferent to most topics. But it’s time I kicked myself out of my comfort zone.

I’m a 20 something guy with a passion for travel. The uncertainty of it all – getting lost in an unfamiliar place, missing a connection, lost baggage and having to survive with just one or no change of clothes, meeting people from different backgrounds- is what really gets me going. 

The travel bug is common but deadly. Bitten once, hooked for life. There’s absolutely no turning back. Everything you’ve known up till this point just fades away leaving you with all the freedom in the world to expand your horizons.

My goal is simple. It is to make you experience the joy of traveling, to help you see the world through my eyes.

If I have managed to instil the sense of wanderlust even in ONE person, I would consider this venture a grand success.

 

Happy travels,

CheefHobo

You know how the French are rude, right?

I don’t.

Recently, I spent a couple of days in Paris. This also happened to be my maiden visit to Europe. Before leaving, I had heard several horror stories about the rudeness of the French.. They told me the terror would start at the French Consulate itself while applying for a Visa. I had people telling me how their applications were either rejected or unnecessarily delayed. The normal processing time is around 2 weeks and based on what other people had to say, I was prepared for 4.

And 4 was right. Days.

On my first day in France, after walking around the city the entire day, I’m far too exhausted to manage a walk back and I just want to crash. It’s 10 P.M and the sun is just about setting and my hostel is 3 miles away. I decide to take the metro instead This being my first time on the metro, I can’t seem to figure out which line to take and where to. There’s nobody around and I’m wondering if, not when, I’ll get back tonight. Enter French guy in his mid 40s. With no other option but to approach him, I do so. He spends the next few minutes explaining how to navigate the metro system. He also adds that I cannot buy a ticket at this particular station. He pulls one out and thrusts it in my hand.

‘Combien?’ (‘How much?’), I ask. He smiles and walks away.

 

It so happened that a friend of mine was also in the city for the weekend along with her brother. We planned to meet at a certain underground jazz club at 10:15 P.M. I was there on time and waited for nearly 45 minutes with no sign of the two. I was unable to call them since I did not have a local mobile connection at the time and there weren’t any payphones around. I spot a guy at the cafe across the street. I walk over, explain my situation and tell him I’d be more than happy to pay him if I could make just one call. He agreed to let me use his phone but refused to take money. 

photo

Lovers in paradise.

This one is very special. While trying to find my way to the Pantheon, I happened to spot two lovebirds on a bike. The girl was seated on the handlebar facing him. This was the kind of thing I’d probably never see back home and being the hopeless romantic that I was, I ran and stopped them at the nearest traffic light, half prepared to add a couple of French swear words to my vocabulary. I pointed to my camera. They seemed more excited than I was.

 

The following incident is what convinced me to write this. On my last day, I’d bought a shuttle ticket to Orly airport for €11. I flashed the ticket to cross the turnstile simultaneously wondering whether I should write about the most common French stereotype. In the process, I didn’t pay attention to the sign board and entered the wrong gate. I exited and tried to get to the other side hoping the ticket would still work. It didn’t. I went back to the Information Desk and spoke to the lady there (she had earlier helped me operate the ticketing kiosk). When I explained how I ended up taking the wrong gate, she laughed and issued a new ticket, which I didn’t have to pay for.

Things could have gone a lot differently, especially in the cases where money (or money’s worth) was involved. But they didn’t. In my personal view, accusing the French of being rude is a massive generalization. Come on, if you had foreigners walk up to you all the time, asking for directions to the Eiffel tower or what not, without making even an attempt to speak the local language, would you still be as polite and patient as you imagine yourself to be? Granted, there’s always going to be a bunch of people around, but hey! Isn’t that true for every place?

What do you guys think? Do let me know in the comments below.

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