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Belgrade Dairies : day 01

So waiting with great nervousness and excitement for my impending trip, the day finally arrived. Contrary to every travel plan, I was anxious and a nervous ball of energy. My flight was at 11am but I barely slept the day before. I guess I was just packing and unpacking. 16 days of packing for summer is a new thing for me. I have always travelled 3-4 days in WINTER where you can recycle the same clothes maybe twice without them smelling at all. I had to pack shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and sunscreen so that I don’t look and smell like a beggar child and also so that I don’t get tanned beyond what I already am. I DONT enjoy the sun a lot. So sunbathing isn’t for me. But anyway, so I slept for a measly 3 hours and got up at 5.30 to catch a train to Eindhoven. Why so early you make ask? Past experiences with train delays at Eindhoven have made me wary. You can never be too cautious when it’s a matter of your highly anticipated trip. After obtaining all the proper visa and permits, I wasn’t going to let my travel plans get thwarted by some delay in train schedules. So I reached the airport almost 2 hours before boarding time, finished all the routine flight stuff and landed at 13:05 in Belgrade.

I knew I was going to struggle with Belgrade routes because it took me some time to figure out the exit itself. But once I did that, I exchanged some money at the airport and started looking for way to get to the main city. The main city and my hostel happened to be 18km away from the airport. And apparently there were just taxi stalls everywhere in the airport. I couldn’t find any bus/ train information. So I somehow managed to find that a bus runs from the airport to the main bus and train station in Belgrade almost every 30 minutes. It’s nicely air conditioned and costed only 300 dinars to get me to the main station. That’s roughly 2 €. Yep, cheap for 18km. Taxi would have cost 11.5€. Once I reached the main city, I had to locate my hostel which was almost a km away from the station. Without the help of friendly GPS ( no wifi), I opened the offline maps app that I had downloaded a day earlier at the advise of a friend. You basically download the country or the city maps and it navigates you without Internet. I think I managed to travel because of this app! So thanks to its creator.

Belgrade is a sloping city. I had to keep going uphill while dragging my suitcase. In hindsight, maybe I packed a lot!? But anyway, it was hot, I was sleepy and tired and hungry! So the whole route did me no favour. After some initial hiccups, I managed to reach my hostel Belgrade Eye. I think I had high expectations from the hostel considering my previous experience in another hostel. This was just modest. I guess decent enough for what I was paying (5€/ night). I was expecting at least a bathroom in every room and not one bathroom to be shared by everyone. But well the people at the reception were pretty friendly and allowed me to pay a part of the money later on since I did not have enough cash with me. Once I freshened up, I got ready to explore. Unfortunately it was already 4pm by then and I had missed the last walking tour that the hostel people knew about. But my internet research has shown that another walking tour is held at 6pm also! (Research helps). So I had a late lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant Dva Stapica. Their menu seemed good to me. I ordered one chicken noodles with seafood and vegetables. The portion offered was amazing and their prices are also modest. I knew at that time that I was going to love my stay in Belgrade as far as food was concerned 🙂

Solo Tripping

So over the couple of months, I got completely frustrated of my thesis, of my PhD supervisor and my masters. In short, I needed an adventure. I tried planning trips with my friends but they we hugely unsuccessful as most of the average plans are. Tired of waiting for everyone to agree on a date, or on a place, I decided to embark on a solo trip. People who blogged about it talk about how it changed their lives or their prespectives. My friends themselves went on a solo trip and highly recommended it to me, like its the latest Harry Potter book.

So, emboldened by all these stories, I decided why not? Solo trip shouldn’t be that difficult. As it is, I hate human contact after a certain point. LOL! Just exaggerating. But yes, I find the need for always being in human contact way too annoying. So I started looking for cheap tickets from Netherlands. I went onto sky scanner and started scourging for all the cheap return tickets in any month after July. Sky scanner is like window shopping to me. Sometimes when I get too bored, I just go on sky scanner just for the heck of it to plan a trip in my mind. Of those maybe 20-30% get the light of the day, so you realize now. 

Once I found cheap return tickets to Serbia, on a whimsy, I started looking for cheap flights from Serbia itself. Spending almost 4 hours looking for cheap connecting flights I landed onto the ideal trip plan. That was how my solo trip idea of Eindhoven- Belgrade- Athens- Sofia- Eindhoven came into picture. I booked a solid 16 day trip without telling anyone. All this at just 90€. Thank you, low cost airlines for helping bored people like me get some adventure. Once my tickets were in place, I told my mom. I knew that once the damage is done, there is nothing that she can do to change my mind. Booking tickets was also a way to show my friends who kept saying that I just talk about going to places but don’t actually do it. Haha!! Take that suckers! 😉

Surprisingly, my mom was pretty cool about it. No fuss. Infact she was pretty encouraging. And so was my dad. My parents can be really surprising when it comes to these things. Most excited was my sister. Somehow she loves showing off my travel pictures to her friends. Yep, I can’t understand it.

So booking tickets was the easy part. I didn’t even get a day to live in my bubble when my friend told me that I could have visa troubles seeing as I would no longer be a student in September ( when I would be travelling). Thus followed endless calls to Netherlands embassy or IND. People who answer the phones are so confused about the same rules, it feels like I am back in my college with the confused administrative people. But long story short, I got my visa and the approval to travel and lo behold, I am typing this post while I am in Belgrade. So far my adventures in Belgrade have been mixed. I will be talking about that soon in the next post. 🙂

I believe that planning a trip including where to stay, how to travel and which places to see are extremely important. It comes down to even planning which local joints you can visit for cheap and good food or even for partying. This just makes your travelling easier. So I labored for days, deciding upon an itinerary because I like to be organized. And I believe, that if I go without plan, I’ll just end up wasting my time. I am the kind of person who likes to travel and see as much as possible. Thus, the great itinerary making. Now I have never had to do this myself and always had someone else to rely on for this. For all those people who are geographically challenged like me, this is a great task to accomplish. You have to plan your activities seeing as which places are suitable for that particular day. Not an easy thing to accomplish. Though you have http://www.visitacity.com that helps you to make your itinerary, it doesn’t have the option for less travelled places like Belgrade or Sofia. So I used this website to plan my Athens trip, but Belgrade and Sofia was all me, with all the internet research and couch surfing advise I could get.

Paris over the weekend

I got the opportunity to visit Paris in the first week of December 2015, during the weekend. Even though I love travelling, I was never too excited to visit Paris, because I had heard the French aren’t very welcoming and all that stuff. But over the weekend, Paris made me fall in love with its beauty. The city known for perfumes had me captivated. That was also the first trip when I did not go with friends and instead went with WanderLust Student trips.

Firstly, I visited the Palace of Versailles which might be an architectural paradise for art lovers or so, but it was a bit boring for me. I am not easily interested in paintings, so those aren’t high up on my interest level. But area is pretty and the small lake with ducks playing in it was my highlight of the place.

Along the way, I found some fun travel companies with whom I ended up spending my 2 days in Paris and exploring the Parisian beauty. For me, Catacombs of Paris was an absolute delight. I love anything spooky and seeing the underground remains of millions of people actually made me excited. Yes, something psychologically might be wrong with me.

Working around in the market area of Champs-Élysées and going all the way to the top of Eiffel Tower was a sheer delight.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Single and Happy

So, why does everyone keep asking me the same question again and again. If I am single or not. And if so, why am I still single. Yes, I am 23 and single. I haven’t dated at all till now. And no, it wasn’t because my parents forbade me to (P.S: That actually does not work). But because, I never felt the need to.

I have realised that I am a commitaphobe, probably scared of actually devoting my time to unending drama and emotional stress. And it has nothing to do with my family. I have had a happy childhood with maybe some bumps along the way, but who doesn’t. Anyway, so I have been asked out. But I have always felt, what’s the point? I don’t know if there is something fundamentally wrong with me or not. If I am wired wrong. But I believe I am so much more happier like this. I do not need someone else to define happiness for me.

I see my friends being in and out of relationships, like it is a joke. I think that’s what scares me. I consider relationships extremely seriously. And I cannot digest the reasons behind a relationship not working out. It actually makes me sad to see my favourite Hollywood couple breaking off their marriage after being with each other so long.

Its not like I haven’t tried to dip my toes into the dating pool. I have tried Tinder, tried conversing with the guys out there. Tinder was a big ego boost for me. Where my male friends were struggling to get 1 match, I got around 10 matches in that much time. Ha-ha, I totally bragged there. But yeah, at the end of it, it seemed totally pointless. I am not an extremely social person. I don’t party frequently. But I love talking to people. Once I am comfortable with someone, I could talk about absolutely anything with them. So, if people cannot strike up a conversation on Tinder, that for me, is a serious letdown. So I have installed and uninstalled Tinder quite a lot of times, depending on my mood.

For people telling me I am too picky, Tough luck.. that’s the way I roll.

So, while my facebook feed is getting filled with people in their 20s getting married, I am not even dating at this point. And for some reason, that does not scare me at all. That doesn’t make me lose my shit. Because I know, it might eventually happen some day. I am not going to sit around and keep waiting. I am going to live my life as a young 23 year old. Experience whatever is out there and maybe worry about this when I have no other work to do. So if someone asks you next time, why aren’t you dating someone.. You should try answering.. ‘ I am in a relationship with freedom’. 😉

So, here’s another list of what not to say to single people!

Cheers! 🙂

 

Of controversies and men

So, just the last week, I tuned into the Coldplay channel on YouTube and watched the video of their new song- The Hymn for the weekend. Since, I could gather that the song has been shot in India, I kept wondering about the locations where the song was shot. But I was totally mesmerized by the song and the music. At the end of the song, I just had goosebumps. I felt the song was that good. And then a friend tells me the song was shot in Mumbai. How did I miss that? Since I have stayed for so long in Mumbai, I couldn’t recognize any of those locations, but well that is hardly an issue.

The next day I see that people are totally blasting Coldplay for their video and showing India in a poor light. People were fuming over the presence of sadhus in saffron robes, Beyonce being portrayed as a Bollywood actress and Sonam Kapoor’s blink and miss appearance. But I don’t get it. Why is it that big a deal?

We are exotic to the foreigners. For them, we will always remain a land of sadhus, snake charmers and movies having elaborate song and dance routine. It’s what’s going to sell the video to videshi masses. Mumbai is hardly what is portrayed in the video. Females in Bollywood hardly dress up like Beyonce does.

So Yes while I do not agree with the version of how India is portrayed. I still do not get the big issue. Its like how our grandparents view the Western culture to be debilitating and a bad influence on Indian culture. Its all about biases. We need to be proud of the beauty portrayed in the video and move on. India is known for the cultural amalgamation. We are the hotpot of culture and that in my opinion is what the video might be all about. Isn’t that something to be proud of. So, that is what we should focus on.

P.S: No one in their right mind would wear jewelry like Beyonce. So, I do not have any idea where they got that jewelry idea from.

Start to something new

Its a brand new day and a brand new opportunity to start something new. And so I start my journey with blogging.

Its not literature, its not a piece of art.

Its just an opinion, just a thought close to my heart.

(Damn, I just rhymed without meaning to! ;))

And hopefully it will resonate with the reader, who happens to pass by my blog.

 

cheers! 🙂

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