Sunday, September 1, 2013

Exploring Europe by Eurail - My dream trip

If  I were to take my family or friends to any place on the planet, it would be to Europe on a Eurail tour.  For me, Europe is the place for vacation especially if you are looking for history, romance, adventure , food, culture or a relaxtion holiday. I would make it the happiest trip ever by not just visiting the hotspots but also  soak in my experience with slow travel.  Slow travel does not necessarily mean traveling slowly, but experiencing travel in a slow mode without hurrying.
                                          Eurail destination landing

Imagine living for a week in Finland. I would best explore this country by foot ,walking past the neo classical architecture on cobbled roads. Would interact with the local population and quietly take a trip to the nearby country side and awe at the wooden houses and landscapes.  I will breathe in the aroma of countryside air where nature is clean and green. Will avail the facilities at the Finnish lakes and go angling, fishing, cycling and speed boating.
What is Finland trip  without Sauna bath? So, will experience the Finnish lifestyle in one of the two million saunas of the country where I hear  even business meetings take place in Finland. I will walk around the little shops selling home made chocolates and try the local vegetarian flavors and cuisines. And will not miss the unique northern lights.
                                            Northern lights (aurora borealis) Finland

In France, apart from the punchlist of tourist attractions,i will go on discover walks. i will also make trips to nearby Versailles, Normandy, Marne-la-vallee and  other little places at slow pace.
For me travel and local food go together. I will make sure i wander the Paris  grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes and bistros as possible trying the local flavors. Will visit Toulouse to see the aeronautical building facility and will not forget to be a part of the local festivals and fairs.
France ....and can shopping be left  behind ?

Oh yeah, will  go window shopping to see the expensive Louis vuitton  and other branded products while I do real shopping at the local flea markets.

                                                       A  view of paris
In Switzerland, Will travel through Bernina express one of the trains which travels through the world's picturesque places, viaducts, beautiful mountains, valleys etc.,  Apart from the landmark places and aweing at the snowcapped Alps. Will walk through all those fairytale places that i have seen in movies.  Switzerland is definitely for me a fairytale book come alive, so i will become an explorer, a cinderella, a queen or an imp reliving all my childhood fantasies in this beautiful land.. I understand that the Alps is also home to cheesemakers who produce cheese through a thousand year old technique, preserving ancient traditions.This cheese making technique is supposed to be a heritage for the whole continent. Will visit one of the cheese making facility where the cheesemakers climb up to the mountain pastures, milk their animals the first time, make cheese without artificial starter culture, salt them and set on wooden boards to age. And what is a swiss trip without a tour to one of  the famous designer watch company, cake art and chocolate company. So will religiously tour them too and watch their work.
                                           Swiss Countryside

In Italy, Apart from visiting cities like Rome, Turin, Milan, Florence, Tuscany, Capri, Cinque terre, venice etc. I would love to stay on sundrenched farms of San Marzano or in Campania which is known for Pizza napoletana and learn the real art of Pizza making. Will visit one of the luxury car making facility, the glass blowing factory at Murano, the wood craft stores of Florence etc., . At Murano, will visit the world renowned blown glass creations and see the making of the jewelry, tableware and sculptures, At Burano, will see the ancient art of lace making which is still kept alive, while walking past the pastel colored houses and buildings. In venice apart from enjoying the spectacles from a gondola or Vaporetti. I  will discover the history, traditions of the beautiful city in the unique and entertaining show Venezia. Will buy a few carnival masks as souvenoir and if possible will take an appointment for a mask making class.At Milan, will visit the Gelaterie Odeaon and taste the unique flavors of ice cream. Not just that, will taste authentic Italian foods like Pizza, Spaghetti, gelato, tiramisu etc.,
 And What’s not to love about this country? Their zest for life shows in masterpieces of art, fashion, cuisine, luxury car making  and celebratory life. Just watching them sitting on one of the side walk benches and observing them would be a learning for me.
Italian tiramisu ( meaning pick me up)
Belgium- the place where beauty meets creativity. This place could be of special interest to fashion designers ( I have a budding designer in the family) since this is the home of fashion designers like the world famous Antwerp six.  Besides there is lot of cultural and recreational activities. Much like Antwerp diamonds, will see the other sparkles of Belgium while walking on the little cobbled streets. I will indulge in the belgian chocolates, pralines, melt in the mouth Ganache, will try to shop in those lace shops which are tucked in the nooks and corners where some of the world's best exquisite laces are hand made.

Netherlands – I will write less about the clichéd aspects of Amsterdam, Volendam, matrodam  etc.,  but will definitely experience the charming cities.  Anne Frank house will bring the pages of our childhood  heroine’s book  The diary of Anne Frank alive.  My nasal senses will definitely lead me to the world’s only floating flower market Albert Cuyp market . It will be a visual treat to see this place and of course will not miss Zaanse Schans – the working village which is  beautifully  preserved with traditional architecture, windmills etc, will sit on one of the wooden benches and admire what’s before me and take in a few moments o f peace . The scenic canals, little cottages, quaint little footbridges, the unique working windmills, lot of domesticated sheep roaming freely  on the meadows would be a sensory feast.  I will not forget to wave hands at all those   Dutch people who pass past me in their bicycles with a relaxed feel in their pace.  Now who would’nt  find such places relaxing to live.  The very thoughts  of visualizing such a place gives me a meditative effect.  Oh, will definitely buy a windmill as a souvenoir which my husband missed buying last time.

                                                      Giethorn, Netherlands where there are no roads

Greece: Greece is a true paradise for tourists. One can explore history, culture, sports, food and leisure here.I will journey into some of their historical monuments, museums and other highlights of Greece like Parthenon. Will visit some of the beautiful islands. , walk around the sea and indulge in a few water sports and be a spectatator to few. I will discover opportunity to visit traditional market areas, cultural and art events. Greece is also the birthplace of the olympic games, it would be a real treat to visit the various international stadia and experience a few games for my family members are sports buffs. I will try authentic  mediterranean cuisine and eat Vegetarian Greek salads and dishes.  I will try to learn the usage of the 4 basic ingredients which is the secret of Greek cuisine - good quality fresh vegetables and fruits, correct use herbs and spices( flavourings) and the famous greek olive oil.  Will experience agrotourism in Greece, since Greece cultivates vegetables only in natural ways, hence they maintain aroma and flavour. Will walk into one of the olive orchards and  go to one of the local home to  watch a demo of how Olive oil is pressed in most homes.

Will do the same with all those European places which Eurail connects to make some happy moments and captures  like these

                                       Home to black forest gateau and cuckoo clocks - Black forest Germany
Train under Mussenden temple, Ireland

                                    Road on Atlantic ocean Norway
                                                          Gosau village Austria

                                                       Toledo Spain

 I would like to slow travel experiencing agritourism, food tourism, culture tourism seeing new places, exploring new cultures in a less stressful way. I would love to interact with the local population, live in homesteads, visit fruit orchards,visit cottage industries,  vegetable patches, local crafts and arts, culture fest  and  experience the locals way of life. Ofcourse, i would be forced to be a spectator at a few adventure sport events. Other than mountain trekking, yachting or maybe  skiing  ( my definition of adventure sports) I will not participate in adventurous activities and sports like snorkelling, sea diving, bungee jumping, rafting, para sailing, water sports  etc.,.  But i will be forced to  spend time watching my family doing all those adventures since they are adrenaline junkies.

                                      oktoberfest, a fest in Germany 

                                                Agrotourism in Croatia
Many a times, we go on a vacation and come back more exhausted than we left. That is because we hop on from place to place and cover many sightseeing places in a short span of time. we get up early hop on to a sight seeing bus and rush from one tourist attraction to the other. The vacation becomes more hectic and stressful than our regular routine life. So, slow travel will make the trip memorable and fill with lot of happy moments. Whenever an opportunity arises will try to take leisurely tours to neighbouring villages and chateaus and enjoy the countryside and their life by connecting with the local communities which will introduce me to  the local food and culture.

Of course, there is so much the Eurail connecting countries  offers to see and do  that it would take an entire lifetime to explore it all, but the above are a few must do experiences  that I would like to have in my bucket list apart from exploring my own homeland  India. 

This post exclusively written for Indibloggers "creating happy travellers" contest in association with

Image courtesy: Google and places to see before i die
information courtesy: first hand account from people who have visited and travel journals.


  1. Europe is great for visiting only and enjoy natural scenes and architecture. But, please do not plan to live there. Having lived in USA for many years, I can tell only from an American’s perspective. For example, in Europe, most service personnel (sales clerks at the shopping mall to restaurant waiters to taxi drivers) are rude and have an attitude problem. You can witness in USA, service people will always greet you with a big smile and when you are leaving they will always say “have a great day”. Yes, I know it is fake. But, at least, this will make the customer happy.

  2. Just FYI. Most of the immigration officers at US Airports (not all), will say “Welcome home” if you a US citizen returning from abroad. If you are a foreigner on a tourist visa, they will say “Have a nice time here”. They don’t say these in any of the European airports.

  3. No SG, i have no intention of settling in Europe or any other place other than India. The more i grow older, i am more fascinated by India with all its harms and charms. But i would love to just visit once. This is written for a contest as you can see i have linked in the end.

    You are right about the attitude and manners. A smile or a greeting can do wonders. It exudes warmth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts:)

  4. This is a fabulous travel plan!! Some fantastic locations and places you have chosen. Agree, when a vacation is planned with a strict schedule, it becomes a pain rather than fun and enjoyment.
    All the best for the contest, Asha :)

    1. Thank you, shilpa. Glad you endorse my thoughts:)

  5. @ Asha - Oh yes, Europe is a nice place to meander along - by train, or even by bike, but not every place is lovely. Europe has its share of miserable places, although the beautiful far outweigh the not so good. Some countries, especially Greece, are now suffering.

    @SG - The days of US immigration greeting a foreigner are long gone. These days, I am happy, if I am not taken into a separate room for questioning.

    1. True Ramesh, every place has its share of misery. Thank you for sharing your views:)

  6. @Ramesh. Yes, I agree with you. Immigration officers in USA have become a little stricter after 9/11. With a name like Ramesh, I don’t think you will have any problem.

  7. presently I am inSwiotzerland and seen most of the places here..its alovely place but what SG said is true, recently they had that Oprah issue.

    But inspite of all the beauty and everything I would nevr like to live here forever, India is best to me..

    1. Nice to know your thoughts Renu. For me too India is the best place to live, that was just my dream travel plan:)

  8. I fully agree with you. The first trip abroad should be Europe. Some of the places that I have visited (from above) are Amsterdam, Toledo, Paris and Antwerp. They have maintained their history so well that its a pleasure to visit these places.

  9. Thank you, haddock:) nice to know you have visited such lovely places.

  10. Congrats Asha for winning the Contest. First visit Singapore now :)
    Even I wanna visit Europe! Nice travel-plan with Eurail :)

    1. It was you who brought this good news to me through your comment. So a special thanks to you Anita. Yes, first singapore and then Europe may be:)

  11. Congrats! Asha...Singapore calling :)

    1. Thank you Bikash. Yes it is, will respond :)

  12. Great Post Asha and Congratulations on winning the Contest. Enjoy your trip to Singapore while I try to enjoy my trip to Thailand :)

  13. Thank you Vikas. For once, I can say same to you:) Have a nice time at Thailand!

  14. A well deserved winner! Congratulations Asha!

  15. Congratulations Asha!! This one is really good ,I work for a finnish company & surely looking farward for such a trip ....