ROAD TRIP EUROPE
Author: Andy Elangbam. (All works are original and non-fiction. Copyrights are exclusively reserved by the author, Thank you).
Prologue: The lyrical melody that best describes my road trip to parts of Europe might be something like this, “ Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be, the sweet love story that is older than the sea…”
Yes, my love story with Europe goes back as far as the time when I used to spend hours mooning over places I would visit one day, skimming through those colorful postcards, pictures and illustrations that I could lay my hands on during library hours in school and college. When friends and acquaintances asked my motives for going to Europe, I have often called it, “ a sort of pilgrimage.” Ending up as a history honours student in College and University was perhaps not a coincidence, even though I had my doubts in the past. Learning and teaching history, geography and political sciences also helped sustain the passion for traveling and exploring.
All plans for visiting a college mate in Japan were made for September 2012 when out of the blue, a friend who also loves traveling suggested that it would be nice to drive around Europe. I had been to England and a couple of places only last year but the prospect of going on a road trip was too tempting to resist. From that moment on, I took the initiative for reservation of air-ticket through my travel agent. We got a fair deal and within days, my friend and I were on the net, planning and preparing our itineraries. Whereas I got the flight ticket for both of us, my traveling companion did almost all the booking for hostels and the rentals because I could not do it without a credit card. Everything went in haze after that because we were busy trying to find time between our office work and our upcoming trip. Needless to say, we ended up running short of time for a much needed homework and research. Yet, I decided that the uncertainties of not planning everything well were half the fun of traveling too!
The disadvantages of living in a remote region like Manipur came to the fore when we had to fly to Kolkata to get our visas, weeks before our actual journey started. It meant extra and unnecessary expenditure, even though we took it as a short break from the monotony of life. Our stay there was spent running around (literally!) for application of visa, gobbling down nice and expensive food in restaurants, window shopping in mall and watching a great movie of the newly released “The Dark Knight returns.” The movie was awesome.
The interim period in Imphal was filled with a sense of dejavu and tension while we waited for the confirmation of our Shengen visa for two weeks. The confirmation came on the 15th day and we got it finally, even though the person who was carrying it delayed it by few more days due to miscommunication. We left Imphal on a warm sunny afternoon of 8th September, 2012 by Kingfisher for our onward journey to Paris from New Delhi on the 10th midnight.
(to be continued)