I have not been everywhere, but it's on my list
In India, travelling is very biased. I mean most of the people lack the the real courage to tread the less trodden path and do something groundbreaking. I mean majority of the travellers feel that way. And the uncles and aunties and bosses and colleagues who take greater pleasure in indulging in gossip than reading a travel journal; leave alone venture on a trip, would try to poke you all the time that why haven't you seen the Eiffel Tower yet!
I mean haven't you faced it? Regular people know a few clichéd destinations like London, Paris, Switzerland and America. I have set foot on 21 countries till now, all via my hard earned money but sadly ( according to them) haven't been anywhere on the aforementioned list. I mean why should I? Is there an unwritten rule that one HAS to go to Switzerland/Paris to establish oneself as a traveller? Sorry. I don't fit into that mould. I am way too open minded to fall into a show off/ must do rut. I would rather tick places off from #TheBlindList than visit an overrated place bustling with people.
My wife gave me wings in 2011 when we tied the knot. She pushed me into exploring the world which was quite a virgin territory for me. Always into academics since childhood, I never really got the opportunity to venture out. My life's first beach was that in Mauritius. As we took one exotic trip after another, I realized the joy of exploring. I worked hard to save money for exotic travels.
However we played safe during the initial phase. We went to all those tried and tested family destinations... Mauritius, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Bali, etc. Then for our third wedding anniversary, we decided to strike off something from #TheBlindList. The place was very popular in the West but not so much in India. It was like people (read relatives and peers) used to react that Philippines is even poorer than India. Why the hell are you going there? We didn't bat an eyelid to all those sayings as we were confident that there was undeniable joy in unraveling the unknown. After one week of unadulterated fun in that archipelago, we realized that we were not born to follow footsteps...but to create our own.
I consider our trip to Philippines as the getaway to discovering our love for uninhibited travel. It was such an enriching experience that we started looking at the world on a different level altogether. We had trekked to the world's smallest active volcano, island hopped on the Pacific ocean, wife had eaten live grilled squids on a marooned island, jumped from the catamaran in the middle of the ocean and snorkeled, we had lived those 7 days of our lives like never before. After we came back, we had to convince our acquaintances (not that we loved but had to) as to why we spent money on visiting a third world country rather than a London Bridge or an Eiffel Tower. After Philippines we hopped across several lesser known islands (as per normal Indian choices) of Greece, travelled extensively across Italy (not just Rome and Venice), roamed in the tulip fields of Dutch countryside, etc etc. We never had an ounce of regret that 16 countries down and still not have visited the Swiss Alps or Paris.
This year again we decided to follow #TheBlindList. We chose nations that never existed on our bucket list as such. We booked non refundable air tickets and made reservations in Air B n Bs and bam, we landed in Budapest, Hungary. Our parents were really vocal this time about their non understanding of the fact that why we were still not going to Paris.
Our journey consisted of Budapest then Prague, after that Bratislava, then the longest duration in Austria before we left for Deutschland. Our return flight was from Munich. It was really an adventurous plan.
We explored like tourists in the 4 capital cities (Budapest, Praha, Bratislava and Vienna) and then our real adventure began. Austria like Switzerland is a land locked nation. Although there is no dearth of water. There are innumerable lakes which are called 'see'. These 'sees' are meteoric in origin and filled with glacial water. Very picturesque, there were at least twenty around the areas we planned to explore. Since it was impossible to cover them all, we selected only a few like Traunsee, Altausee, Bad Aussee, St Gilgen, Attersee etc. That is the main reason why we rented a car so that we could have full freedom in roaming. We were staying on the bank of Traunsee and had spotted several other sees on our way to various destinations. On our third day, we were on our way to Salzburg when we spotted a deep blue lake along the road. It was quite a vast lake and it literally was accompanying us in our drive. It was Mondsee. I had noticed it while studying the maps of this area but could not include it as it was on our way to Salzburg which would cause unnecessary delay. But Mondsee looked too spectacular to be missed. I decided to pull over at a spot and we walked across the pebbled bank to the water.
It was 10 in the morning and about 9 degree Celsius. It was cold although the sun was shining bright. The colour of the water was turquoise, just like that of Maldives. Surrounding the lake were the Alps; covered with dense jungles. The water was so clear that the stone bed could be seen. It was absolutely a secluded area.
Suddenly a wild thought struck my mind and my wife seemed to resonate with it. We decided to take a plunge in that freezing water. What's the use of being open minded if we did not do anything impromptu? We were carrying our entire luggage with us so we quickly changed into our swimsuits and slowly waded into the freezing water.
It was freeeezing. The pebbles beneath pricked our soles but who cared? The feeling was surreal. We could see our feet inside the water and also the webbed feet of the ducks swimming nearby. Suddenly a wild thought again struck me. It scooped a handful of water and drank it. Of course it was sweet. It was glacial water and its clarity guaranteed its purity. I urged my wife to do the same. She too was shocked how pure it tasted. If we hadn't indulged in this crazy act, we would have missed something significant. And why not, we have always been ready to #SayYesToTheWorld.
Once we were neck deep in the water for a while, our bodies became used to the cold. It was very relaxing. But since we had a long journey to Salzburg ahead, we could not become that carefree. Reluctantly, we walked our way back. Dried and changed into warm clothes, our stomachs were gnawing. We had not got a chance for breakfast yet. We were carrying croissants, fruits and cold coffee with us and hence we decided to have them by the lakeside. It was definitely the most picturesque picnic of our lives. With a sense of victory although unwilling to leave, we started our journey for Salzburg.
We travel to explore and this short excursion of Mondsee proves that how impromptu plans are the best. What life throws at you is absolutely unpredictable. It's upon you how you make lemonade out of those lemons. This episode remains the best experience of not only our Central Europe trip but our entire lives till date. We reached three hours late to Salzburg but those three hours were judiciously spent.
Why do you love the world? Maybe this video by Lufthansa would answer this question!