Friday, 23 September 2016

The Long Awaited Road Trip | Episode 1

Saturday, 13th August 2016

There is this certain fascination with the whole idea of a road trip. The thought of a never-ending road, uniting this beautiful world one habitation at a time, in a diverse panorama is bound to capture everyone’s attention. Not that we get its idea from the fact of rigorous unintentional promotion by conventional medias in the form of movies and documentaries.

One of such a road-trip dreamer is myself. I've picked up numerous hobbies in my life so far, some of which only lasted for short periods due to my own dissatisfaction. In such cases, I had always felt that there was something missing or out of place even thought I didn't know what it was. I was seeking for, I suppose, this thirst for contentment. And this search for fulfilment led me to photography (challenge accepted!!) which, I've come to realise, I've been thoroughly following and content with. Then came travelling! For me, photography and travelling are like 2 sides of a coin. Never in my dream have I ever thought I would be passionate about something until I started seeing this beautiful world both, through my eyes and my lens. I am now always seeking opportunities to hone my skills and travelling has kept me moving in my endeavour. Wow! That went deeper than I expected. Anyway, the main point is I love my camera and travelling, be it by plane, foot or any form of vehicle, and a road-trip had always been on my bucket list.

So, I proposed a mini one to my friends and after their agreement and meticulous planning, I now share here the best times of our lives, or shall we say adventures. Why adventure? Well… firstly, my confidence level on right-hand driving was low to none, and to make matters… lets say exciting, we hired a manual car. Secondly, I was the only driver and lastly but most important of all, the line up for our road trip (4 people with 4 interesting personalities). Spending 24 hours a day with this lot for 10 days in foreign countries was pretty fun.

Our Trip Itinerary
Duration: 10 Days

Germany Austria | Italy | France | Spain | France | Switzerland & Germany again.

Day 1 Munich: Since time was of essence, I booked an early flight to Munich, which we (one of our compadre) nearly missed on due to unforeseen circumstances (phone dead/no alarm on our compadre). Perhaps, a morning flight was not a good idea. After we picked Manish, we rushed towards Gatwick. Tensions were rising as our flight time was approaching and we encountered some minor road works, which intensified the cold atmosphere. I was in no condition to chitchat, neither was Sumit and Manish, however, Anup started cracking up some lame jokes which I suppose lightened the mood. Bravo to you my friend, Anup. 
As soon as we reached Gatwick, I rushed to check my bags in and dashed towards our gate. Phew! We made it on time, although Manish had to pay £45 for his over sized bag, which was a bummer for him. 

Also, I would like to give my gratitude to Sumit; if it weren't for him we'd end up in some random taxi, probably get there late and would've missed our flight. hahaha.
Thank you Sumit.

So, the plan was to get our booked car, visit Munich Town centre, spend a couple of hours there and drive towards Austria where we would rest for the night. And without any knowledge of Munich, we just followed our Satnav and drove. Personally, I like Munich, for me cities with architecture and history has always been fascinating and of course there is great food and beer. Now, I have come to the conclusion that I just love travelling, be it city or countryside.
After an hour, we were in Munich which seemed a bit posh, filled with branded stores and sports cars (we were highly likely in the luxurious part of town). For an hour we aimlessly walked around and scouted some restaurants for lunch. As for me, I am happy with delicious food regardless of venue or standards. My friends on the other hand, Jesus, their requirements: no street food, good restaurant, delicious food and of course somewhere that gave 1 litre beers. So, we settled on a good looking restaurant which they regretted, as they did not sell beer by the litre. Food was good; I had sausages and Wagyu burger (nom…nom…nom) that Sumit was not fond of. 

After the hearty lunch we started our journey towards Werfen, Austria but before that we detoured to Berchtesgaden. Best decision ever! The impact of this picturesque (as I would like to pronounce picture-skeee) landscape was numbingly immense. Definitely coming here again!! Probably alone though.

Konigssee Lake

Finally got their 1ltr beer although, 1ltr of Radler was not to Manish's liking. As for me, I was stuck with fanta since you know...designated driver O_O!

Day 2 Werfen, Austria: Second day of our road-trip, everything’s going according to my awesome plan. However, I have to mention, driving from Berchtesgaden to Werfen was not easy, especially in pitch dark, severely uphill/downhill country road. Did I stall my car? Yes. Was I scared of darkness outside? Yes. Was I confused on which lane to drive on? Undoubtedly. Was it adventurous? F**k yes. Regardless of my feelings, I drove safely, which I am proud of. So thumbs up for that.

All in all, it was well worth it. Wouldn't you like to wake up to this magnificent vista of mountains under those beautiful azure sky? 

Seriously! every time I whip out my camera, they are always ready for photos uninvited. Ruining my money shot. Anyway, this was taken in front of hotel Weissess Rossl Werfen, where we stayed; surrounded by picturesque mountains and river.
Let me have this opportunity to properly introduce my travel companions (misfits) in this photo.  From left Sumit aka Psycho (per to his history which he defends adamantly), Manish aka Crazy (always been! I was just slow to notice), Anup aka gorey aka Pussy (Abundantly filled with negativeness, always thinks worse than it actually is) and of course yours truly, me, aka Damber; lets just say only normal one in this bunch. :)

Eisriesenwelt, world's largest ice cave, natural fridge I might add. This world never ceases to surprise us with its remarkable creation.
This is also where my friend’s Anup legend started. Of course I am exaggerating a bit but he did something out of his personality that shocked all of us.
When the plan was to visit the ice cave where you require hiking, what would any ordinary person do? Let me just emphasize ICE CAVE again. Of course, prepare to hike with warm clothes. However, my good friend Anup decided to wear his sandals and when we insisted him on wearing shoes? He answered, “These are trekking sandals bro. Any terrain would be fine with these.” We even saw people changing into proper gear for the Ice Cave but that didn’t influence him either.
So, we hiked, used a cable car and then we reached the cave. There is a door at the entrance of the cave! A freaking door! Hodor! Every time the door opens, the gust of freezing air charges from it, which put Anup in great predicament. Finally, he regretted his choice of footwear but there was no turning back.  He hesitantly asked the tour guide if his shoes were adequate for cave, to which the guide replied, people had done the tour with those sorts of footwear. I think that eased his mind but the joke's about frostbite, cutting his toes and people staring at his foot and laughing were not helping.

Decision time for him, either he waits outside for an hour until the tour finishes or comes in with us with his trekking sandals and that’s where the Legend was born. He decided to go in and even came out with his toes perfectly fine. Bravo to him. It was a good laugh. 

En route to Grossglockner High Alpine Road/Austrian Apls

One word “Amazing!”. Relaxing yet thrilling to be driving on this spectacular road enjoying mountains vista. As we passed several bikers, it just ignited the flame inside me for riding a motorbike. This place would be perfect to explore with motorbike. Just imagine feeling the fresh breeze of air, enjoying the majestic view of the mountains turning one hairpin road a time, elevating towards the peak unfolding different panoramas.
Simply the best...but I was in a car this time and struggling a bit with my manual gear. Let's just say, I could not afford a mistake on those mountainous roads. One mistake O_O

Epic pose for epic landscape 1 (Ready to rumble) 

Epic pose for epic landscape 2 (Boys are back in town)

Epic pose for epic landscape 3 (Back to school)

Day 3, en route to Lake Garda, Italy.

Berggasthof Wallackhaus, hotel we stayed  in, which is located between the High Alpine roads. 

Something funny occurred here, or maybe slightly dangerous I suppose. It was during the evening after we checked-in, we decided to explore. We were chilling on a small hill in front of our hotel, laughing, giggling, some photo shooting and drinking while admiring the pleasing views of Austria. Suddenly, we heard a lightning and my hair (regardless of the quantity) was lifting a bit or rather bounced. I turned to the others and I was not alone on this occurrence. All of us, except Sumit (he was wearing hat), felt this. So, we sprinted towards our hotel.
When we were on the parking lot, we encountered a guy who did not speak a word of English but saw the whole thing and with all his hands flying around tried to explain what had happened.  We were a bit unsure but with his level of shock on his face and gestures, we could say, we nearly got struck by lightning. The rage of Zeus nearly got to us. Thank heavens for this lucky escape.

This is where stranger tried to explain that we nearly got struck by lightning. Calls for a group photo. 

Episode-2 will be up next week...or week after where we visit Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland. ^_^

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