Rome

Rome was not built in a day, and that is the reason why it is impossible to see the entire Rome, to grasp the culture, to take in the complete beauty that this place has to offer, ever (and definitely not in a day !).

Since I have always gone to more conventional places like beaches and mountains for a vacation, vacationing in a city was a very different experience. I was skeptical too, whether the entire stay would be worth it, whether I would be able to cover all the important places in those few days or would I be left with 1-2 days on my hands with nothing much to do. Will I get bored of looking at the museums or get tired by walking too much? Many people suggested that Rome is not worth more than 2 days (3 days at max) but after being here, I think otherwise. I could have spent weeks over here.

I stayed in Rome for 4 days, in a hostel named “Legends”, situated at a 5 min walking distance from the Termini and metro stations, making the commute as easy as it could be, though for most of the time, I walked because everything was so close by and navigating using actual maps in the narrow streets was more fun.

Must visit places

Colosseum

It is not just an Amphitheatre, it is the biggest Amphitheatre in the world. Being a part of the many wars and politics of Rome has left it in ruins, yet it stands tall amidst its broken walls and has a lot of history to offer. Hosting gladiator fights for the whole city to watch, the seating mechanism designed so amazingly so as to accommodate thousands of people gracefully, and what not.
The queue around the Colosseum is huge so the tickets should either be bought online or a guide tour should be taken. The guide tour costs around 45 bucks, which includes Colosseum, Palatino and the Roman Forum. I found the guided tour worthy of the money as things became more interesting with a guide explaining the bits and pieces about this architecture marvel.

Roman Forum

One should go to see the Roman Forum if they visit Colosseum. The great rulers of Rome held their fort from here. Though it is in ruins too, but it is still a beautiful sight. It is surrounded by many Archs, which are usually built to symbolize victory.

Again, the guided tour made the experience a lot better. While going out, we caught a glimpse of a Christian wedding in the church situated just near the exit.

The Vatican City

There are three major stops in the Vatican City.
1. The Vatican Museum: Filled with paintings and sculptures, every turn is a different sight. Some part of the ceilings are painted in such a way that they look like carvings made out of plaster (3D effect). Many rooms are protected with curtains so that not even a single ray of sunlight can enter, because the paintings are sensitive to sunlight. There is a particular painting in which the eyes and feet of Jesus Christ follow you wherever you go.
2. The Sistine Chapel: The famous painting of Michalangelo, The Creation Of Adam, and many others of his artwork adorn the ceiling. You are not supposed to talk or click pictures here as it is the most sacred place of the Vatican City.
3. St. Peter’s Basilica: I cannot recall the number of chapels situated inside this Basilica but there was one wherever I looked. They have the remains of St. Peter and some other saints in the cellar.
Getting a guide here is worth here as well as it saves the time spent in queues and is more informative.

Pantheon

Situated in the middle of a very busy street, it sees a lot of rush because of that and also maybe because the entry is free. A Roma temple turned church, it is a religious place, thus hands and legs have to be covered while entering and while you are inside. We did not take the guided tour here but there are audio devices placed around the periphery. We read about a few facts online. Since it is a church, there was a chapel inside, and it was quite peaceful to be there.

There was a restaurant just across the Pantheon, where I had the best dish, called Gnocchi, of my entire trip.

Trevi Fountain

Legend says throwing a coin in this fountain brings you back to Rome, something I got to know after coming back from there. The place is mostly crowded and it was very difficult to sit near the fountain for some time so I preferred to watch it from a distance with a Gelato in hand, but the view was breathtaking, from everywhere.. Though I did not throw the coin, but I do intend to go back someday for sure.

Spanish Step

These famous steps are situated overlooking a busy street of the city. I went here twice, to take some rest after walking for long but they give such a romantic feeling. If you are lucky, you might find someone singing or playing music there. I have heard it’s an even prettier sight in spring.
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this place as I took the pictures while sitting on the steps but it was just peaceful to sit there and watch the streets downstairs.

View from the Spanish Steps

The innumerable Piazzas and streets

There are so many beautiful streets in this city, hustling and bustling with tourists, people singing and playing music, branded stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants. Piazzas are the city squares and there is one at every 10 minute walk. If you have nothing to do, nowhere to go to, and are out of plans, an entire day could be spent just roaming on the streets, eating Gelato, going into quaint little cafes and stores.

Try out these things

Wine. Wine. And More Wine

You cannot go to Italy and not have wine. I wish I drank more wine but being very tipsy would have deprived me of my amazing experience but having a glass of wine with food was almost a constant for me.

Gelato

If wine was not enough, there is a Gelato shop every 2 minutes with so many flavors.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi is nothing but a type of pasta, like Penne, Fusilli, but the one I had (right outside Pantheon) had the most amazing pasta sauce in the world (along with the cutest waiter serving it).

Pizza and Pasta, it goes without saying


Some learnings from my experience

BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS

The guide in Roman Forum had warned us, I was cautious all the time about mugging and was always avoiding dimly lit roads in the night. While trying to shop, I kept my bag down for 2 minutes, most likely the phone was on the seat as well, and went to stand in a mirror to look at the shoes I tried. That was all it took for someone to steal my phone. Fun fact, it happened in a Bata store, which is apparently not an Indian brand but still, it hurts.
Lesson learnt: Do not keep your stuff out of your sight for even a second, and if possible, just carry the important stuff like cash, passport and your phone in a small travel pouch and not huge backpacks/purses.

Avoid flights with huge layovers

The airline which took us from India to Italy (Milan) was Saudi Airlines. The plane was good and comfortable but the layover in Jeddah was for 10 hours while going and 16 hours while coming back. There was not much to do on the airport as well, except trying weird colored lipsticks.
Lesson learnt: Though it is necessary to save money by going for cheap airlines, a little splurging to make your travel comfortable is fine too.

Eurail Rocks

We had not booked any train tickets beforehand and in Milan, we faced a grave problem, booking train tickets on a short notice was around 120 Euro each. To make matters worse, the Forex card was not working at the time and there was not enough cash to cover the train expenses for the entire trip. We ended up buying a 4 Trip Eurail pass with the help of the customer service executive, which costs 160 Euros and then you just have to pay 10 Euros for every train ride (200 Euros in short).
Lesson learnt: Don’t panic if things get goofed up sometimes, take peoples’ help, have good amount of cash, but most importantly, no need to book everything ahead, just get the Eurail Pass 😀


I am definitely going to go back to this city once more in my life, and would probably stay for a longer time. I could not capture my entire personal experience in this post as it is huge, but if you want to read it, you can check it out here.

A more detailed and personal account on Rome

I have been thinking about writing this since I have been there, infact while I was there. Thanks to gazillion amount of work, I haven’t been able to get to it. But I don’t trust my memory cells anymore and have a feeling that I’ll start to forget everything if I don’t write this soon.

Even though I don’t want to keep out any details, I think it is impossible for me to write everything, and nobody is gonna wanna read an unnecessarily boring post so I’ll try to control my emotions and write the relevant things. But what the heck, this is my blog, so I will also write what I want to write! (There is also a shorter and concise version here )

10th October: We boarded our flight from Hyderabad to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) from the Saudia airlines. Unlike what we were told, the airlines did provide food and the seats were decent. There was a layover in Jeddah for about 10 hours, but the excitement of the trip kept us from sleeping. There was not much to do on the airport except trying weird colored lipsticks (read yellow and what not) on the airport. The flight from Jeddah to Milan was relatively VERY empty and we got the entire three seats to ourselves, each, and could finally get some sleep lying down.

11th October: From Jeddah to Milan, Milan to Rome
Landing in Milan felt so unreal. The airport wasn’t that busy, it was 6 am in the morning, we were sleepy AF. My expectation was that somehow everything would seem very different, would seem out of the world. It seemed like a normal airport, just cleaner, and with signboards in Italian as well. I had expected something to go wrong while reaching here, my worst fear was that our bags will be lost in transit (I am always afraid of that), but well that did not happen. Carrying our three trolleys and two backpacks, we were on our way to figure out how to reach Rome at 7.00 am in the morning. Before I forget, the immigration was a piece of cake, like literally. The immigration at Maldives airport had asked me more questions than what the Milan officer asked. We took a bus from the airport to Milan Centrale, the main railway station. We had checked online and apparently there were not a lot of trains to Rome but after reaching the station, we realised how untrue it was. There were trains in every 20 minutes to and from all the big cities of Italy. The only problem was they were really costly (like 120 Euro each), if not booked beforehand. Somehow our Forex card was not working, so panicking, we went to the customer service agent there and that agent suggested that we buy the Euro Rail pass for 4 trips. It was for 160 bucks, and then we had to pay 10 bucks for every trip so thankfully we were not going to get bankrupted. We finally boarded the train. The plan was to watch a movie but obviously we slept during the entire train ride.

Getting out of the Rome station, Milan seemed less fancy all of a sudden. The high buildings, the busy station, the sidewalks, the way the cars stopped for pedestrians! I was just smitten by anything and everything. Our hostel was at a 5 minute walking distance from the train station. We checked into the hostel and tried to get some sleep. It was around 1-2in the noon by then. I couldn’t sleep much. After trying to sleep for a few hours, we got ready and decided to head out. Though we were not sure how safe/unsafe the streets are at night! We asked the girl at the hostel reception about what would be a nice place to go at that time. She suggested a few places, which were two stations away from the metro. Boarding the metro was a challenge in itself. Sometimes I feel that when you are trying to do everything right, you make the most silly mistakes and end up doing everything wrong. Anyway, we took the metro from TERMINI to SPAGNA. The plan was to go to the Trevi Fountain. When we got out of the station, we were met by a completely different sight. This was the main street of Rome (or so it felt). There were so many people around, the street was crowded but yet beautiful. We used the maps in our phone and made our way to the Trevi Fountain. I ate a bombass huge gelato over there. After spending some 15 minutes trying to look at the fountain amidst all the rush, we headed for Piazza Del Popolo. It is so easy to just walk. The street that we had to take to reach the Piazza was no less than a fashion street. The shops, the clothes, I don’t know how it was possible for us to not spend all the money that we had and buy those amazing coats. Chatting and admiring, we finally reached the Piazza. It was pretty deserted but different.

We decided to go near the metro station and have dinner. We ordered a pizza and a bottle of wine (because there was no way on this earth that my first proper meal in Italy was going to be without wine). A little lost, a little tipsy, we made our way back to the metro station. I get really paranoid in such situations but after some wrong turns, some misread signs, we were there. There are these famous Spanish Steps there, which are just huge, well, steps. We sat there for some time and then came back home.

12th October: Colosseum, and places nearby
We had pizza and some beer from a place nearby and headed for the great Colosseum. Like I said, everything is so near, it was 2-3 metro stations away. We went from TERMINI to COLOSSEO this time. We were a little apprehensive about taking the tour guide but they are convincing enough and the line was too long so we took the tour guide. For 45 bucks each, they took us to Colosseum and Palatino, along with explaining the history. The way our tour guide explained the history of the Colosseum, I had no idea that I had any interest in history before that. But it made sense to have someone tell you about the history of a place otherwise you are just standing in a huge amphitheatre, you click a few pictures and then what? You wouldn’t have seen the place if you did not hear even a tiny bit about what and why and how of it.

There was a different guide for the Palatino. He had a different way of story telling but that was fun too. After that we spent some time in Palatino, looking at different ruins in the entire place. But it was almost 4 in the evening so we thought of going back to the hostel as we were very tired. While getting out of here, we caught a glimpse of a wedding (we have always been fascinated by Christian weddings). As we got out of our metro station, we though of exploring some new road around the station. And voila ! We discovered another grand street, at a walking distance from our hostel. All the pain from our legs was gone and we ended up walking on that street, window shopping for another 2 hours. We finally headed to our hostel, with a plan to get out after some time with warmer jackets. But once we went back, we didn’t want to move. We had some ready to eat food and a half empty bottle of wine so we decided to have that. It felt different to not eat pasta/pizza or a sandwich with only tomato for a filling for a change (we are vegetarians! )
Somehow the girls in our dorm were not very talkative or out going. And somehow they were always sleeping, when we were going out, when we were coming back. So we used to prefer sitting outside in the lobby. We started drinking the wine while sitting on the sofa, talking random shit, as usual. Abusing in hindi was not a problem at all as nobody around us could understand us. Somehow, when we were a little tipsy, we heard somebody abusing really loudly in Hindi and then two girls walked in to the apartment. Turns out, two Indian girls had been allotted our dorm sometime during that day, who were really drunk and really loud and finally we didn’t feel guilty for talking so loudly all the time.

13th October: The day I lost my phone
I got up really early in the morning because one of the loud Indian girl was video calling someone and calling her gorgeous and congratulating her. I think someone got engaged but I didn’t want to ask because I was internally abusing her for waking me up with the loud shouting. Tossing and turning, it was finally time to wake up. We did not have a particularly fixed plan that day but we had to go to Pantheon for sure and maybe some castle across the river. Today, we took a bus who dropped us somewhere at a walking distance to Pantheon. Everyday we were discovering something new about the infrastructure and public transport of Rome. Entry to Pantheon was free but they were a little strict about the clothes. Today, we did not get a guide and tried to listen to the audio boxes placed here and there but hard luck, everyone wanted to do the same and obviously there was a queue. So we googled a little and read. We roamed here and there after that, tried to click pictures, went inside a few shops. One particular shop was selling very cute stationary but somehow the mind convinces me to not spend so much money on things I’ll never use :/. Wandering, we reached the river. I had heard about it, the Vatican City was just across it. It felt like we could cover the entire city on foot if we were up for it. No wonder the Europeans are so fit, despite the cheesy food habits. The loud Indians girls had told us about a dish called Gnocchi, so we decided to have that for lunch. I am not gonna lie, it was one of the best meals I had during the entire trip. The waiter was cute, the Gnocchi was SO TASTY, the view was good, the feet were finally put to rest. We were sitting just across the Pantheon. After that, we decided to click some pictures. And then just went in the opposite direction, sort of towards the hostel and the road we had discovered last night. The plan was to end the day with shopping. On the way there, we came across a few more museums and a huge building, which we had seen the previous day from Colosseum. Curious, we went inside. Apparently there was a lift in the building which was so high that you could see the entire Rome. But we satisfied ourselves by just looking from the terrace of the building as the price and queue, both were too much for our taste. After a lot of wandering around, discovering new paths and getting excited to find that we were very close to the Colosseum, we headed for the street.

Before that, we spent some time at an ice cream parlor for a gelato. Then using my phone for navigation, we headed to the street. We went inside one shop and I tried a jacket. After that we went to a Bata store, yes we did. Apparently Bata is not Indian and so it didn’t feel as bad to go to Bata in Italy :P. We went to a few more shops after that and while we were trying some jacket, I realised I didn’t have my phone. I reached into my bag but knew it wasn’t there. We rushed out and traced back but the phone was nowhere. It was switched off as well. Bata was the only store where we had kept our stuff down for some time and gone away and I knew that that’s where it happened but we couldn’t really do much. I was crying my lungs out (why am I like this?). Aanchal was SO SUPPORTIVE the entire time. We called a few people and asked someone else to get the number blocked while we get an FIR in the police station. Well, the police kept sending us from one station to another, making us cover all the streets that we had not by now. We finally decided to go back as it was dark already and we were not familiar with the streets. We could not afford any more loses, to things or to us! So we came back, while I cried on the phone while talking to my parents, who were very supportive btw! All the pictures of that day were gone but well.

14th October: Vatican City
The first thing we did was to go the the TERMINI and get a new phone and SIM Card because I was going crazy without a phone. I bought the cheapest and most relevant phone I could. Thankfully, the new SIM they gave had better internet connection. Finally re-united with my dear old friend Instagram, I was ready to see the Vatican City. Entering a new part of the city, and soon to enter a new country, last night’s tragedy forgotten (partially), we were happy again. After getting down from the metro station, we booked a tour with one of the guides we met. Our tour was scheduled after 1 hour or so, so we got down to eat. With the recent experiment with Gnocchi, we decided to be daring and try something new again. So we ordered Carbonara. It was not bad, it was different, but not that good. It was finally time for the Vatican City. I had heard so much about it and had so many different images in my head, I was finally going to see it. After crossing many lines, and technically the border of a different county, we were in the Vatican City, the smallest country on earth. The first proper stop was the Vatican Museum. There were so many things there, from sculptures to paintings on the ceilings that looked like plaster work because of the 3D effect, eyes and feet on paintings that followed you wherever you went, paintings that could not be exposed to sunlight lest they degrade. The Sistine Chapel, where you had to keep quiet and just look at the painted ceiling. The St. Peter’s Basilica which was so huge and had the remains of some important people (including St. Peter, which we couldn’t even spot in the first go) in the cellar. We went to see a Castle St Angelo after that, but just outside the castle, a guy was playing keyboard and this was on the bank of the river, so we decided to skip the castle and just sat at the edge of the bridge, listening to the music, watching the people go by, the scenery around us and enjoying the last evening in the best city we ever went to! That night we just cooked a ready to eat Shahi Paneer we took with us with some ready to eat Rice. At night, we went to the Spanish Steps and the main street for some time.

The rest, to be continued!

Ladakh, you beauty!

We are not travellers, but we aren’t tourists as well. With the feeling of exploring the unexplored in our hearts yet going and visiting those places that are in everybody’s checklist, while enjoying the beauty of the nature and taking their snapshot in our minds but also wanting a good picture of our own against that scenery, we fail to fall in either one of the category. But this category of our own usually leads to the most memorable and most comfortable trips ever! This is a story of one of the most picturesque location that I have been to.

DAY 1
The flight from Delhi to Leh was our first ever flight to the mountains, thus we were startled at first to see how mountains could pop out from the clouds (a particular person even refused to believe that they were mountains for a large amount of time!). Landing in Leh, we were afraid that we might face breathing problems, but thanks to a friend who had been to Leh a million number of times before, we were well prepared for that and had taken medication so nothing happened.

We stayed at hotel Himalayan Villa, which was at a walking distance from the market.

There was some local sight seeing on the first day, Leh palace and some monastery. But the only thing that I saw was how exotic that place was, with deserted mountains and some white colored buildings all around.

Ending the day while sitting on the edge of some tea shop, our feet rested on the side of the wall, some slow music on, hot beverages and Maggi, a local lady singing some folk song in an amazing voice, and just watching the sun set. In the entire trip, I think that was one moment which was completely unplanned, spontaneous, real, and the most relaxing. We had just stopped there for tea and had to go and visit the Shanti Stupa, but we were unable to get up after settling down. We didn’t plan to watch the sunset, we just did because we were there.

DAY 2
We left for Pangong the next day. On the way, we came across the famous school in the movie 3 Idiots, known by the name Rancho’s school post the movie. We also passed the Changla Pass, one of the highest motorable passes in the world. That was one of those moments in the entire trip when oxygen became rare, and we only stopped for a moment to click a picture.

The way in which the scenery changed at every turn, it was exhilarating. Nobody slept on that long journey from Leh to Pangong, with music and that beautiful view keeping us awake the entire time. So the moment the mighty Pangong Tso came into view, we could not control our excitement. We came across many water bodies on the entire trip, but nothing could beat the rich blue color of Pangong. Situated in the middle of brown mountains, that lake made the entire place colorful.
We camped there at Blue Waters camps. Not the best idea in the world because none of us could sleep properly the entire night, but they were sure as hell the best (read spacious and beautiful) camps ever! If only the place had been a little warmer and a little less remote. Due to the sleepless night, everyone was up for sunrise the next day. All the sleepy heads, all the people who always wake up in the morning to watch the sunrise but then give up and go back to sleep, each one of us was up in the morning. And then it took 1.5 hour for the sun to actually rise! There is no sunrise point on Pangong and yet we sat on the chairs, in front of our tent, and waited for the sun in that cold morning, just because we could!

DAY 3
We left for Nubra Valley post the failed attempt at watching the sunrise (mind you, the view failed us). Pangong to Nubra was the worst car ride ever. There were so many bumps on the road and so I tried to sleep the entire time. We stayed in a guesthouse named Olgok in Nubra Valley. The guesthouse had a beautiful garden in front of it. And they served us home cooked Daal, Paneer and Roti! It’s so good to get home cooked meal in the middle of nowhere! We went to see the double humped camels of the cold deserts that day. Some people were very very very scared to ride the camel, but it’s good that others motivated them and everyone went to take the small 10 minutes safari together. Though I am never ever doing it again.

We found a small cafe nearby, Born Fire Cafe, and they had a small tree house in the middle! It was a fresh breath of air in a rather unhappening locality, with a good ambience. We sat there, played cards, had pizza and hot beverages. That night finally we got a good night’s sleep.

DAY 4
The next day, we left for Leh from Nubra, while stopping in the middle for ATV ride. The moment that stood out was when the bikes were taken atop the sand dunes! It was almost similar to some rollercoaster ride! We also went to Penamic for hot water springs, but apparently they just have some closed man made bath tub and not some nature surrounded natural spring. So we just came back to Leh.

On the way back, there was one moment when we were listening to some songs, I was sitting with a friend in the rear seat of the car, we were singing along, and just enjoying the view. And that’s that. I was just doing that in that moment. And both of us just stopped at one point, and discussed this and felt so happy about living in the moment! That is the first time ever when I have lived in the moment and realized that (I think most of the times I have not realized when I did that) and it made me so happy that such a thing actually exists!

We also passed the Khardung La Pass on the way, another one of the highest motorable passes in the world.

We just explored the Leh market that day. There was one cafe on the corner of the street, it was very beautiful. The man on the counter was a little cute too :P.

DAY 5
The next day, we went to see Sangam point, which wasn’t very beautiful due to the lack of colors in the rivers. But the Gurudwara that came on the way had the tastiest food I could ever ask for. The prasad ka halwa was love!!

We also went to see the parade at the hall of fame in the evening, which filled us with a feeling of patriotism. It was a beautiful trip indeed and a good note to end the trip.

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We had with us a crazy ass photographer, with the energy level of either a kid or an old grumpy grandpa, who could say the randomest stupid thing any time of the day.

We had with us a sick person(like literally she was sick on the entire trip) eating a new medicine everyday, scared of small things every night and still active enough to make fun of everyone else during the day and keep everyone lively

We had with us the trip enthusiast, who collected every small memory with her, from tickets to amazing landscapes in the camera lens, and the best dj of the trip

We had with us the mom, who used to wake up every morning without complain (others used to complain), the person who had to take a bath twice a day even in the coldest of weathers, and would adjust to every little thing

We had with us the person who kept on scolding everyone all the time, and yet was the only person on the entire trip who cried because she was scolded for a change

We had with us the cool headed person who did not worry about anything, will cook up facts if someone else is worried, and managed to enjoy the trip without her phone also!

Such diverse personalities, and such amazing people! It was a trip where we did not get high on liquor, weed or even our phones (someone really wanted the latter though!). It’s always amazing to travel with a group, and a group of girls is always the best!

My First Solo Trip

The first question the world asked me when I told them that I was going alone was why. Why did I even have to go alone? I gave them a number of reasons like nobody was willing to go with me and that I didn’t want to end my trip just because I was alone. But post the trip, I think that was not the entire reason. I actually wanted to go on a solo trip. Not because I wanted to explore my life, contemplate, figure out my issues, to get over a breakup, not any of those reasons. I just wanted to understand what all the hype surrounding a solo trip is about. Why is our generation so hell bent on going on solo trips, why is it something that everyone should do once in their lifetime? Well, I would say that I got some answers. Let me tell them to you along with the story of my trip.

I was so nervous in the beginning, that boarding a flight from Hyderabad seemed impossible. Every small discomfort used to scare me. And then when I finally made it to Goa, I got to know that there was a big taxi strike going on, making commute very difficult. And I had booked my resort on a very offbeat beach, which was going to take some good amount of traveling and effort. After hiring a taxi which charged me double the money and left me somewhere near Margao and then getting an auto from there, that left me 1 km away from my resort, I finally made it there. It was called Majestic Beach resorts, situated on Varca beach. The resort was good. There were small huts instead of rooms, with a small garden in front of every hut. The ambience was amazing. There was also a private entrance to the beach from the resort.

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I spent an entire day just lying on that beach, reading a book, sipping wine, eating, listening to songs and just enjoying the view. There were times when I craved to talk to somebody and that’s why I was on my phone for a large amount of time.

I did not interact with a lot of new people, I did not make everlasting friends, I did not go to unexplored places in the city, nor did I find the meaning of life. And I would say that these things are overrated in a solo trip. But I did do whatever I wanted to do the entire time. Every small detail of the trip was defined by me and me alone. And it felt good.

I have been an indecisive person my entire life and so living on the edge and taking impulsive decisions on my own regarding what I wanted to do the very next moment was exciting. Solo trips can be a really healthy exercise for indecisive people like me because you have to take some decisions all the time, and you don’t have anyone to discuss them with. You just have to trust your judgement and do what you want. You learn how to figure out what you want, how to decide.

It did get a little boring occasionally, because there was a lot of time on hand, with very less things to do, and not many people around to talk to. Intoxication was out of question. I did pass my time by just walking, looking at the sunset, eating, watching television, reading as well. It was a little strange in the beginning, to roam around in a new city on your own, but you get used to that after sometime.

What I learnt?

  1. It’s not necessary to make a lot of new friends or talk to strangers on a solo trip.
  2. It’s not necessary to go to unexplored places in the city and perfectly ok to sit in one place the entire time and relax.
  3. You don’t have to sit and contemplate but you can sleep and get your body cycle in line.
  4. It’s wise to carry a selfie stick or a good camera if you want to click pictures because you cannot ask strangers to take a lot of pictures of you all the time
  5. As you are going alone, do confirm before going that everything is ok in the city. I was almost stuck there due to the taxi strike and it cost me so much money to travel from one place to another.
  6. Carry things with you that will help you pass the time.
  7. Don’t listen to them. Go and see for yourself what a solo trip is actually like. Every person has their own story to tell after every trip.

Solo trips are not meant to change you, but just to teach you that you can take care of your problems on your own, that you can have your meals all alone, that you can probably deal with anything all alone. And I think that is how it changes people, or brings a difference in their lives, because you finally realize that you can live alone after all, you don’t need to depend on anyone for anything, just be nice to people in case you need their help 😛

An almost impossible trip to Goa

Here in India, it is believed that every person should go to Goa with their friends in college. Here in India, it is also believed that a plan involving Goa is never ever successful. This is a story of how I, along with 2 more friends, barely managed a trip to Goa in our college final year and how it changed our lives.

It was our college ritual, where everyone goes to Goa with their friends in their Final year. We had witnessed this since first year and this was on the top of our bucket list. We started our planning in December itself (of Final year of course!), asking a lot of random girls who would be interested because Indian parents generally do not allow their kids to go on trips. And this trip had all kinds of reasons for our parents to refuse. It was an all girls trip. It was a trip to Goa. It was around 1500km far away from home.
Somehow we managed 10 people who agreed to go. We booked our train tickets and hotels for a week-long stay in March.  People had even started to shop. We went back to college from the winter vacation and then slowly and steadily things started to go wrong.
People started to back out from the plan. We lost our tickets and then realized that someone had got them cancelled and taken a refund which resulted in even more people backing out as nobody wanted to spend more money on booking the tickets, which were costlier due to approaching dates and the dates being during the holiday season. Finally, only 3 of us were left. With no hope and heavy hearts, we tried to convince our parents to let us 3 go and magically they agreed. So finally we were GOING  TO GOA!


It was a fun-filled ride, starting from the train journey till the very end. The train journey was mostly full of playing card games, listening to songs (a typical Indian train journey), gossiping and sharing stories. You can assume that we had shared enough stories on that one day that even if we were not very close before the trip, we had become the best of friends in those few hours.
We took a Rajdhani from Delhi to Goa, which started in the noon of 20th March 2016, and we reached Goa on the afternoon of 21st March. We took an auto/cab from the station to our hotel, which was situated at a walking distance from the Candolim beach. The name of our hotel was Casablanca. As we had made the bookings for 10 people, we had plenty of extra rooms. So we checked into 2 balcony rooms, side by side, where one room could serve as our “getting ready area” and the other room could be used for sleeping.
We hired two scooties, changed into new clothes and went out to explore the world. We travelled all the way to Arambol beach on that day. We reached there and straightaway went to sit in a shack because we were told that this is what people usually do in Goa, hang around in shacks. We had some food there. And then we went out for a stroll on the beach. It was a very calm beach, with not a lot of rush. You could see a lot of foreigners
there with stalls. We just walked around for sometime, got our feet in the sand and the sea and watched that beautiful sunset. It was the first of many more sunsets to come. The breeze felt amazing. There were some beautifully decorated restaurants there. We came back to the stalls. One guy was playing the bongo drum there and a lot of people had gathered around. We just sat and listened to him play for sometime. Then we made our way back to the hotel.
We went to club LPK (Love Passion Karma) later that night. It was a beautiful place situated beside a lake (or some water body). We had some food and beer there and then we left to meet some friends at the Calangute beach. There was a different kind of thrill being out on the road that late at night. And the entire experience of being on a beach so late, looking at the moon reflecting on the sea, with light breeze in the air, it just takes you over.

22nd March: The next day we went to Vagator beach in the noon. It was also a little far away from our hotel. That beach was a little rocky as compared to the other beaches we saw. But it was fun to climb on those rocks. After spending sometime on the beach and clicking some pictures, we just went to a shack nearby to have some snacks. Then we went about exploring the local shops near that beach. We located a Tattoo shop and thought of getting a temporary tattoo because permanent tattoo was way out of our scope at that time. We chose some butterfly design and one by one sat down to get that tattoo done.
It was almost sunset time and we were really eager to see the sunset from the top of Chapora fort. So we drove our scooties at full speed after the tattoo and ran atop the Chapora fort hill and barely managed on time. We sat down at the edge of the fort, our feet dangling from a great height. In front of us was the vast sea and the sun slowly drowning in that sea. It was a beautiful sight and the fact that we were there at the exact time made it all the more special. There is a thing when you share some amazing moments with some people, you create a special bond with them. I think something really clicked within us at that time.
After that we went to the famous Curley’s on Anjuna beach to be a part of the rave party, though none of us was a rave person back then. There is no special entry fee for girls anywhere so it was very easy for us to get inside the party. There we realized that everyone was very much high on drugs and were lost in a trance. We tried our best to copy people and dance funnily but after sometime we realized it was not our cup of tea and we made our way back to the Candolim. There we stopped at 10 Downing Street for dinner. We had never heard of that place before but just saw lasagna as the special item that night and so decided to try that. That was one amazing lasagna BTW. We could hear a lot of Bollywood music coming from a room sort of inside that restaurant and we went in to explore, and that’s when we got to know there was a pub there and it was Bollywood night. We danced our hearts away after that, like literally!

23rd March: The next day was booked for water sports. So we went to Baga beach in the afternoon and got ourselves a good deal for the water sports. There was Banana ride, Jet ski, Parasailing, Ringo ride to name a few. We were really scared at first, but when we got into the feel, they were actually very much fun! For Parasailing, we were taken deep into the sea on a mini ship. After that, at the time of returning, the guy asked if anyone wants to jump into the water. Me and my friend agreed. So we got to stay in the middle of the Arabian Sea for about 5 minutes, with a mini ship standing above our heads, but boy was it fun!! It made me feel like a daredevil, swimming in the middle of the sea and all.
At night we went to Club Cabana with some more college friends. We had a few drinks and just hanged around with them.

24th March: The next day, our hotel shifted us to suit rooms, 2 suit rooms actually. And so we took double the usual amount of time to get ready because we just couldn’t get over the beautiful room and it was so much effort to get out of there. When we finally managed to get our asses off the bed and got ready, we went to see a church, Basilica of Bom Jesus. It is probably the most famous church in Goa, with a great history associated with it. After that, we decided to go for a cruise. Not casino, just a normal cruise. So they just took around in a ship for about 1 hour, where we just cruised on the Arabian Sea. The cruise people had some fun events planned, like a group of dancers performed different folk dances of Goa. Then there was DJ as well.
After the cruise, we returned to Candolim and then again went to 10 Downing street for dinner as they had a Karaoke night. We participated in Karaoke there. We even got that recorded. It was my first Karaoke ever.
Later that night, we asked around if there is any place suitable to watch the sunrise and our hotel receptionist told us that there is one fort, Aguada Fort, which is not very far from Candolim. He even promised to wake us up in the morning.

25th March: The receptionist tried his best to wake us up, but we just convinced ourselves that sleep was more important. So we went to see the Aguada Fort in the middle of the day and it was not a very good decision as it was very hot. After exploring the fort, we thought that as it was our last day in Goa, we should spend the rest of the day leisurely. We rented beds on Candolim beach, drinking lemon sodas and just watching the sea. That beach was madly crowded on that day, I must tell you. We tried shopping in the evening for our friends and families.
At night, we went to Tito’s Lane for partying in one of the best night clubs of Goa. We even met few nice gentlemen, whom we helped in getting couple entry into the club (because apparently stags are not allowed anywhere!). Then again, we danced the night away. Then we went to the Baga beach for sometime, like for a goodbye of sorts and then came back to the hotel and packed our bags as we had to leave early in the morning.

26th March: We caught our flight to Delhi, with a good 8 hours layover in Bangalore, continuing the stories that could not be completed in the entire 5 days trip.

Well that was the end of it. There were many things that this trip taught me, like March is not the best time to visit Goa because it’s very hot. We had become very tan by the end of the trip and the Sunscreens only help to some level. I also learnt that Goa is not all about booze and drugs. You can have fun and you can party without any of these things. And I really mean it. I have partied a lot after this trip and all I am left with the other day is hangover and a blackout, where I am trying to join the dots about what really happened on the previous night. I am really grateful that my Goa trip is still crystal clear in my head and that is how I am able to write so much about it even after 1.5 years. And trust me, I remember a lot more, I just removed a lot of boring details.
And the most important thing, an all Girls trip is the best!

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Fun fact: After around 1.25 years of this trip, all three of us got together and decided to get tattooed. And thus on May 21, 2017 we got our first permanent tattoo together as a symbol to the bond that was created on this trip. I have been on many trips with a lot of friends, but I cannot even begin to express how different and special this trip was for me, for all of us. And this is why we decided to ink it on ourselves that the friendship that got strengthened so much on this trip, the friendship that we are continuously maintaining despite staying in different cities, will stay 🙂