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London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Days



Yes you read it absolutely right, a road-trip from London (UK) to Jammu (India) Facebook Page.

No, we (my wife and me) are not the first ones to do it and actually got inspired by one another Indian couple who did it via Russia, and another Indian who did it all alone via Pakistan .

We started planning about it mid 2013. To give a little background, i am a Software Professional who loves to drive/ride and my wife is a Travel Consultant who loves to travel. So she popped me this question one fine day if we can do a cross country, i loved the idea but had to run it through our mother (yes we need blessings from parents to embark on something of this magnitude :)). Once she agreed, there was no looking back.

We got all formalities done by end of August 2014 and flagged off on 6th September 2014.

Internet helped us in gathering as much information as possible to conceive this trip and this is an effort to help some other souls who might also want to traverse the same adventure.

The countries we will be passing through are:

UK
France
Belgium
Netherlands
Luxembourg
Germany
Switzerland
Italy
Austria
Czech Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Croatia
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Montenegro
Albania
Macedonia
Greece
Turkey
Russia
Kazakhstan
Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan
Iran
India



We had originally planned our trip via China, we even got the visa stamped but then border between China & Tibet closed because of land slides and there was no definite date on when it might open again!

I am on Indian Passport and my wife is on British Passport, so she has to apply less Visa's than mine.


* For additional information you will have to refer the website. We have tried to provide some information on how to apply for Visa and important places that are not supposed to be missed once in that country.

We would be more than happy to answer any question that any of the members might have that may assist them in any such similar planning.
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 1: London To Paris

(UK/FRANCE): Finally the day came. We have not slept for more than 2 hours in last 24. Absolutely hectic but the thought of visiting 28 countries is keeping us super energetic. Oh! Did I tell you that we are also moving to US for good so we had to pack all our bags, vacate the house and arrange sea freight from UK to USA as well. So we had two jobs at hand – Moving from one continent to another and our BIG Roadtrip planning!!

Saturday morning came and we got up at 8 am, started loading our car and pasted the car stickers.

Now was the time Dhanno had dreamt all her life, she looked very beautiful with all the accessories fully loaded! Few of our friends and Kapilians joined us at Priya’s Tandoori (Bath Road, London) for the last supper. We had Paranathas (Oh!! This place is heaven and best for Paranathas just in case you are in London and want to try) and after that we did our last good byes and they all flagged us off (bit of cry and those emotional hugs – You know what I am taking about). Surely we were sad but had to say good bye with a heavy heart to all of them.


Our Precious Friends

We bought euro tunnel tickets a week in advance which came around for GBP 79.00 one way. We decided to choose this boring journey because we wanted to cross the country ASAP. We were running late to reach Euro Tunnel, as they wont allow you if you are late and any last minute ferry tickets, they can be quite heavy on the pocket!

Euro tunnel takes only 35 mins from Folkestone to Calais as compared to Ferry from Dover to Calais which takes roughly 2.35hrs. Our Euro tunnel departed at 15:50 hrs and we are in France at 16:35. Wohoooo!!!


Akhil had his Supernap

And as we entered the first leg of out journey i.e. France, driving pattern changed. I am not so comfortable driving on the opposite side and i have been doing all of the travel planning, so it comes down to my personal driver i.e. Akhil Pathania to display his skills .. he he

Now, we are on right side of the road while our steering is also on the right side, double whammy .. init!

We took our first pitstop in Paris, staying at Akhil’s old mates and it was an absolute pleasure meeting them In France. Thanks Priya Soni & Pankaj Singh :)

As we crossed Arc-De-Triomphe roundabout, our GPS screamed “Take the 7th Exit”, we were like did I hear that rite. Yes 7th exit! Something not very common in UK/USA/INDIA. By the end of our first day, we strongly believe, had this been UK, we would have received 2 penalty tickets at least – Let’s see if they send us tickets to UK :)

 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 2: Breakfast in Paris, Tea in Luxembourg & Dinner in Belgium

In the morning we had amazing crepes at Montparnasse (Creperie Josselin) and drove to Eiffel tower and then we drove off to Luxembourg around 2PM.





Reached LUX by half 5. There is nothing much to see/do here, just roam around the city center and eat out. We had tea and decided to move on.

Entered Brussels at night and had amazing Kadai Paneer, Chicken Curry with rice at friends place (Thank you Mrs. & Mr. Vijay Singh and the cute little Princess). This trip is actually giving us an opportunity to meet friends we had not seen in a long time and we are loving it :)



NOTE: You cross lots of tolls on the way. Since we had a roof rack as well, our car’s height is now 2.4 M roughly and at one booth we had to pay EUR 22.00 .. Wow!
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 3: Belgium & Netherlands

Its 9 in the morning, Akhil worked for few hours (remember we work from home) and then we grabbed a quick cup of Tea and decided to visit Grand Palace & Manneken-Pis. On the way we met a did the Grand Palace was full of Waffle shops and the fragrance .. Ummmm. We surely did not miss the opportunity and grabbed one



We strolled around Grand Palace, Manneken P i ss, clicked few pictures, had a little drive around in Brussels city and then we started towards Brugge by 2PM.

Brugge has been in my list for long time now. Especially after watching “The monuments Men”. If you have seen the movie, I am sure you know what I am taking about. “Ghent” and “Church of our Lady” both were in our list but due to limited time we decided to do just “Church of our lady”. We reached the museum but a little too late as the area was closed where “Church of our Lady” is kept <Heartbroken>!! The saving grace however was the doorman who gave in to my cat eyes and let us in to have a glimpse of church excluding the main area which is other side of the church. “Church of our Lady” is Michelangelo’s last painting and we really wanted to see but due to shortage of time and since we had to be in Amsterdam same day, we decided to continue and promised each other to come again to Brugge and do it peacefully











For all Belgium fans: I must say you need 2 nights stay if you really want to enjoy Brugge. It’s one of the most beautiful towns I have even been and definitely very underrated. It’s like stepping back in time. Everything is so pretty, boats all around, pubs around canal, medieval buildings, stunning architecture, those cobbled lanes with beer museums, chocolate factories, diamond shops, vintage tea rooms – Ahh!! What a beautiful walk in the town! It is 27 degrees today and we are making most of it

We left Brugge around 1700 hrs and reached Kontich by 1800 hrs to meet other friends on chai. We stayed with them for an hour and then drove to Amsterdam. After 3 hrs of driving, we realized that we are heading down south … Nooooo!! I had accidentally used wrong post code and now we are delayed by 3 hours! So took a U-Turn and we reached Amsterdam around midnight. Had dinner with awesome hosts Nitika & Sachin Mukesh



FYI – We have started noticing the difference in our car mileage. Normally with full tank (100 Ltrs) it would go roughly 480 miles but now with more than 200 kilos in our car ([email protected], Roof Rack with 2 Spare Tyres on top, 50cc Scooter etc.), it has come down to 350-400 :-|

Moreover with so much additional weight, we could not see “Dhanno” doing higher speeds on Autobahn – What a shame !! <Sniff>
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 4: Netherlands & Germany



We left home around 1300 hrs and went to meet Kapilian from Amsterdam.



Then we headed towards Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein, IAmsterdam sign, strolled around the Canal for a while. Spent roughly 4 hours there and then called it a day in Amsterdam with fresh mint tea with traditional Dutch Pancake. Happy me again :)

You can get good quality Magic Mushroom and bit of Marijuana. After all it’s all legal in Amsterdam ;-D

Around 1700 hrs we started driving towards Frankfurt, around 1800 hrs we noticed that speed limit had vanished from our GPS! Guess what! We were on Autobahn .. Yey!! But we ended up being moderate drivers in the middle lane, thanks to 1000′s of KG’s we have laden in our Dhanno Darling. Dhanno was not willing to move beyond 160kms/hr and we had no choice but to be content with that. We reach Frankfurt around 10 PM, booked Flemings Conference Hotel. Quiet a decent hotel and great location. Parking and Wi Fi has been two important parameters for our all Hotel reservations. I would give Flemings 7.5 out of 10 :)

We chose this Hotel as it was closer to Iranian Embassy and Frankfurt city. We knew next morning at 9 am we have to reach Consulate of Iran to get our Iran visa. Dozed off around 0100 hrs. Akhil has been working hard, long drives and then work from hotel for quite some hours and then again next day ready to drive further – Tough one!







 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 5: Germany

We finished our breakfast, got all the paperwork ready and left for Iranian Embassy. It was a 10-15 minute drive. We reached and approached a counselor, we passed them our approval codes and to our surprise they replied that they have not received confirmation on any of our approval codes. They told us that nothing can be done unless they receive the confirmation and they were going to close as their work hours are only till 1200 hrs.

The guys at Iranian Embassy were very supportive and helpful, one counselor who was dealing with us took our number in case they need to contact us, we took his number as well.

No began countless calls between Aarti and Travel Agent in Uzbekistan (whose services we have been using to get approvals from few countries), we checked again in another hour and Iranian Embassy confirmed that they have received approval code for me but not Aarti. We thought lets apply for mine at-least and will see if we can apply for Aarti’s from any other country.

We requested the Embassy guys and they were kind enough to accept my application after work hours (very sweet of them). By the time we reached there, Aarti’s approval had arrived as well and we were all happy. Catch was that they would need a day to process the Visa, so we had to stay another day in Frankfurt and we were more than happy to do so :)

Went back to the parking and settled there for sometime as i had to take some office calls. While we were sitting there, one Uncle Ji approached us and asked if we were from India. Chit chat happened and he was sweet enough to offer us Tea, to which we jumped with a BIG yes. He brought us the tea and it was one of the best tea’s we have had in recent times and the snacks were super yummy as well.

He invited us to his house, and we spent good 10+ minutes with his family. Goes without saying that he saw “Comedy Nights With Kapil” sticker on the car and approached us, so obviously he was a Kapil Fan and we did our customary Fanpage photo shoot :)


Mrs. & Mr. Surinder Pabla with their Grand Daughters

Mrs. & Mr. Surinder Pabla’s warmth and hospitality brightened up our day and we went up and checked into Radisson Blue Hotel to go on with our rest of the day.

I had quite some work from office, so started clearing my backlog and spent rest of the day inside. For dinner we explored one of the Hotel’s restaurant and it was a great dining experience :)



 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Please keep the updates coming. But please, can you stop talking about Indian food?

Strangely I can get virtually everything to make a full English breakfast/roast, but almost zero Indian ingredients, which I love. I may have to accept an assignment back in Bangalore for the fix!

Hope the trip continues to go okay. It seems to have started well.

On the Belgian/Luxembourg thing, I know it's a bit late, but the Ardennes is the place to be. Great food, superb beer and lovely people.
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Please keep the updates coming. But please, can you stop talking about Indian food?

Strangely I can get virtually everything to make a full English breakfast/roast, but almost zero Indian ingredients, which I love. I may have to accept an assignment back in Bangalore for the fix!

Hope the trip continues to go okay. It seems to have started well.

On the Belgian/Luxembourg thing, I know it's a bit late, but the Ardennes is the place to be. Great food, superb beer and lovely people.
Indian food is all that we missed on the journey, closest we got to Indian food was when we entered Iran. Yeah, late now for "Ardennes", maybe next time ;-)
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 6: Switzerland (Wildkirchi – An Adventure to REMEMBER)

Woke up with the excitement of getting our hands on our Iranian visa finally. Quickly enjoyed our breakfast, put our stuff back in the car and left for the Iranian Embassy. Upon arrival our eyes were searching for that familiar face who had helped us a lot yesterday. There he was on his counter, the smile he gave us as he saw us approaching widened our smiles further.

He gave us the good news that visa has been approved and now we need to go get the money order to pay for the visa expenses. There was a bank outside that issued them, so without wasting any time we were there in a jiffy. They asked us for our passports, we explained it to them that passports are with the embassy but they did not issue us the money order without the passports. so we had to go back to the embassy. Counselor refused to give us the passports without we paying the fee as the visa was already stamped, and suggested if we have the cash, we can pay cash so any other customer present in the embassy and request them if they can let us use their credit card. We found one kind gentlemen and in few minutes we were out of the embassy with our passports in our hands. Iran embassy had been very kind to us, and we were happier to see that they had stamped us a month visa .. Yey!!

Next milestone for us now was getting the Turkmenistan visa done as well. We both still did not have Turkmenistan Visa, Frankfurt is one of the places where Turkmenistan has their embassy. So, our plan was to visit the embassy on our way towards Switzerland.

It had started raining and we were kind of enjoying the weather. We arrived at the embassy but since we were not sure about the parking, Aarti stayed back and i walked into the embassy. By mistake i ended up ringing their bell twice (it was more of a house converted into an embassy). The ambassador come out to see a guest off and was pretty upset of me pressing the bell twice. His counselor told me to come in and explain why i was there. She is working their on internship and was very kind and helpful. Once i explained to them that me and my wife are looking for Turkmenistan visa and could not apply earlier as perquisite for Turkmenistan transit visa was to get Uzbekistan & Iran visa first. And since now we have both the visas we wanted to get started with the Turkmenistan procedure. There were no officials present in the embassy that day, so ambassador had to help me out himself. He was very kind and helpful as well. After gathering all the information (took me around 60 minutes), i left the embassy and we started for Switzerland.



Our plan was to dine at Wildkirchi and call it a day. We were running late and we wanted to reach Aescher (location where restaurant was) while there was enough sunlight to enjoy the view. We tried our best and by the time we reach the station, the last cable car was awaiting its last departure (1800hrs) for the day. The moment we entered Ebenalp station to buy cable car tickets for Wildkirchli, the station guy looked at us and told us that this was the last cable car for the day and there is no way we will find any transport on the way back. We started convincing them that we were expert trekkers and our plan was to trek our way down and that we were aware that it takes more than an hour and we came prepared. He looked at both of us and said, “Sorry with those shoes”? I was wearing Converse trainers and Aarti had her Hunter boots on! He he.

Aarti ran back to the car, changed her shoes to “Scarpa” and obviously that did the trick and they agreed to let us go. Took us 10 minutes and we are at the Wildkirchli station. We still had to walk for another 5/10mins before we could reach the restaurant. We crossed few caves which were quite amazing and let me tell you that 5/10 minute walk is going to be one of the most memorable walk of your life. You will end up spending lot of time on top of the hill capturing pictures. You have to force yourself to keep walking. If it is a sunny day then consider yourself to be lucky, we sure were.



Lovely people, delicious Rosti, great laugh and you see people getting drunk with the schnapps. We enjoyed our meal and decided to walk back around 7.45 PM. It has started getting dark and we still had 1hr 30mins walk back to the town where our car was parked.

Now comes the funny part as the trek was not going to be as easy as we thought. So we started trekking back after our meal talking how amazing day we had, lovely food and were patting ourselves that well done, bucket list ticked.




So after 15mins of trek, we realised that we have no clue which directions to follow. We got to one point where you see the signs but there were signs for different village but nowhere for Wasserauen (where we parked our car). We were supposed to follow signs for Wasserauen. Still i told Aarti that lets follows signs for this village and then via main road we can reach our car but do wives listen? We started following our own way and realised after 40 mins we are in the middle of woods. I was kind of enjoying the adventure and things got scary for Aarti when some wild rabbits decided to run around in the dark making all kind of scary noises. I was carrying a torch and it was getting dark pretty quickly, switched it on but the battery was not showing much promise. We reached end of the woods and then there was no way forward but sudden drop which i thought we should try, fortunately or unfortunately Aarti was in no mood for adventure and decided to go back to the restaurant. I had no choice but to follow her. Torch was getting dimmer and so was the sun and we could barely see where we were going, Aarti was getting impatient and out of nowhere we saw two twinkling light coming down the hill. She started walking towards them and i like a sensible husband, just followed

In another 20 minutes we were stone throw distance from the lights and were happily surprised to know that it was another couple who was walking down to the same parking spot we were. We request if we could join them and they were happy to help. They took us the same trail i was asking Aarti to take and the trail was not pointing to a different village but said “Hiking Track” in German.




After 40 mins walk, it started raining heavily. I was slipping and sliding in my Converse while all of them were trekking down the hill effortlessly. By the time we reached Wasserauen station, we were totally drenched. Our DSLR, shoes, clothes were all fully soaked but we were not complaining, it was an amazing adventure. This experience made our Aescher visit even more memorable and we had great laugh in the car on our way back. Experience which will live in our heart forever.

We changed out clothes and dried ourselves, then started looking for direction for the hotel we had booked. Aarti called them up as we were running and to our surprise, they told us that we cannot reach the hotel now as we need to take a cable car to reach them, now it was too late and last cable car was already gone. My personal travel expert immediately looked up and arranged for another accommodation, three cheers for her .. Hip Hip Hurrey!!

We drove to Zurich and checked into Marriott, the hotel staff was very kind to throw in quite some goodies complimentary. Three cheers for them as well
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 7: Switzerland (Contd…)

After a drenched night and an amazing adventure in the hills, today was going to be a lot more civilized. We had planned out the day to checkout the following:

Schilthorn, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland

But it was not turning out to be a great day to enjoy the mountain views as it was foggy and drizzling. Plan was to reach Aspen Alpine Lifestyle Hotel (read review here), check-in and then continue with out outing plan.

Sygic (Offline Android/iOS GPS Software), had been guiding us every since we started our journey, and we will taking its lead to our hotel as well. As we got within 5 miles of our hotel, the road started becoming thinner and thinner. I was loving it as I like these kind of reads but not Aarti. Our Dhanno (our car) was taking it well when suddenly after few amazingly steep and sharp turns, we were going uphill a 40 degree gradient and no jokes, while Aarti was screaming OMG.. OMG, I was trying to keep my cool and accelerating steadily and hoping our car which already weighed 2.8 Tonnes with another 0.6-0.7 tonnes of stuff on it including us, would not go backwards and keep on moving. I only wish that we weren’t scared and had recording the climb but the reality was different. The way the car moving ahead effortlessly, made us believe that getting a Range Rover indeed was the best possible decision we took.


* The path marked in RED is that dangerous road. There is a proper way to the hotel from the other side, and thats what we used for rest of our commute to and fro from the hotel.

There was a white Audi behind us ever since we took on the narrow road, and as it turned out to be they were lost and following us to catch us and ask for directions. They were an Arab family of four, and Aarti told me that lady in the family too was terrified on the way up.

We were happy, scared, lucky and excited at the same time. Trying to digest that we almost got lost in the woods yesterday and today again could have been in trouble but there we were in one piece. Spoke to the lady at the hotel desk but she wasn’t amused and suggested that we should have taken the proper road. We told her that we saw direction marks for the hotel on the road directing people this way, to which she agreed and replied that they will be removing those signs soon .. Duh!






Don’t know whether the hotel was empty or she was moved by our experience, she upgraded us to a Junior Suite and that was simply amazing. We checked in, refreshed ourselves and started for Schilthorn, as per the lady at the desk we were running late and if we missed it today there was not time to visit it again tomorrow. Took the proper road this time and reached our destination, only to find out that the observation point on top of Schilthorn was too foggy and there was no visibility. At the reception counter, the lady showed us the live feed via the cameras at the top, and it was no point buying the ticket.

Schilthorn has a revolving restaurant and this is where James Bond movie ‘On her Majesty’s secret service’ was set. This restaurant, Piz Gloria revolves full 360 degrees. Disappointed we got back into the car and left for Interlaken.

On the way to Interlaken we came across a cow processions taken out by local villagers. Cows with big bells tied around their necks, here is a video of the same below:



We take our selfies very seriously.

Our food was followed by cup of coffee and hot chocolate. The cafe we had our drinks had lot of flyers lying around regarding para jumping, there were videos also being played on big screen and it was quite luring. Me and Aarti looked at each and decided to give it a go but when we spoke to the company who did this, they mentioned the weather was not great and they cannot really confirm if they will be doing the jumps today. We got out of the cafe and clicked few pics.

Some videos from our time spent on the beautiful roads of Switzerland (ignore the wind sound please ;-D):



 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da

Day 8: Switzerland (Contd…) (Jungfrau – Top of Europe)

When we woke up in the morning, we were really excited and glad as it was a bright sunny day (looking at the weather a day before and weather forecast suggesting that the sun will be on leave), we indeed were feeling lucky.


[In front of hotel entrance]


[No .. That's not a Monkey! That's Aarti for Christ's sake :p]

Plan was to go check out Jungfrau, so we left for the train station. We parked Dhanno in the parking lot, and in an effort to receive a phone call while trying to get stuff out of Dhanno i dropped my phone and cracked the screen :-/


If that was not enough, 2 tickets for a return journey cost us Euro 250+, man were they expensive.

We tried exploring the idea to drive up there but i guess there are no roads! Train had nice clean glass windows giving maximum view of the outside and with the weather being absolutely clear, the views were breathtaking.


The train had an interesting mechanism to pull the coached to such great heights, and if i am not wrong Indian government did seek guidance from Swiss authorities before starting the train to Srinagar.


[Grindelwald Station]


[Notice the straight metal gear in between the tracks]







 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da



Once we reached the top, all we wanted to do was click, click and click. It was just beautiful.




The tourist center at the top had many spots setup to enjoy your experience at Jungfrau.


1. Ice Museum





[Yup .. That's the squirrel from the Ice Age series]

2. Outpost


 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfEWU7nMcE4


3. Play/Slide Area
There was play area setup down below, where families were having a good time with their kids.

I had purchased a telephoto lens before leaving for the trip and this was a great spot to check it out. It indeed turned out to be a good buy.





After enjoying the views, we started looking for a spot to eat. Food cannot be delayed because based on my experience of more than 2 years, one among us (not me :-D) can get “HANGRY” (Hungry + Angry) and trust me this situation is a strict no no. There was surprisingly an Indian Restaurant available as well. I decided to have my lunch there, while Aarti went to a different cafe and brought herself something else. Indian food while being costly (“Expensive” is Switzerland’s middle name) was decent, i enjoyed my share. Then we grabbed a cup of masala chai and boarded train back to Dhanno.
 

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Re: London (UK) To Jammu (India) Roadtrip: 1 Car | 2 Travelers | 25 Countries | 50 Da



The sky was still and we started our journey towards Italy. As the road unfolded, we were soon on Wassen drive. It was hardly half an hour into appreciating how beautiful the drive was when it started to get foggy. The road was narrow and there were lot of bike riders out on a jolly ride.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpvRrGzzqbs


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie0OpO4kx0M


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKNxp3pRdLM


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDSCz4FI8Vw


Carefully we drove through the mountain passes and reached Lake Como. It was already late but we still had to drive till our destination i.e. Cinque-terre.


We had booked a home for few days at:
Corte Paganini
Via Caste 41
Caste
Ricco Del Golfo Do Spezia
IT – 19020

We had a little trouble finding the address, but the host was very kind and came to guide us back to the house.
 

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Day 9: Italy (Cinque Terre)


After a good night sleep, we woke up charged up as “Italian Riviera” was on the list for quite some time. Aarti had already started blabbering in Spanish which only she could understand.

We got ready, had our breakfast with whatever was available in the house. The moment we stepped out, we were welcomed by a nice, bright and warm sun. What else can you ask for eh!

Plan was to hop on a boat and check out all 5 coastal villages that constitute Cinque-Terre (The Five Lands) i.e.
• Monterosso al Mare
• Vernazza
• Corniglia
• Manarola
• Riomaggiore

We hopped into Dhanno, the point from where you board a ship was not too far. Finding a spot to park your car be a hassle though. Luckily we point a place a little far from the actually location of the boarding point and then started walking towards it.

There was still some time for the boats to start so we decided to grab something in the meantime and click some pictures.

Thanks to us waking up late in the morning and then spending a good amount on clicking photographs, we were only left with 2 – 3 hours before we could catch the last boat to our starting point. There was an option of taking a train on the way back, and that’s what we did in the end.

When the gate opened, we bought two one way tickets and boarded the ferry. In about an half an hour or so, we were at the first stop i.e. Portovenere. This was not one of the villages but a stop for the ferries. There were so many tourists and places too crowded, so we just took a stroll, clicked few pictures and boarded the same ferry again for the next village.









In another 15-20 minutes we were walking to get down at village Riomaggiore. The moment you get down the ferry, you have to walk through a narrow trail which is already occupied by people standing in queue to board the ferry. With the sun shining bright, and cool breeze blowing, at least I wasn’t complaining. We could see plenty of people getting sun baked, swimming i.e. having fun. We had no plans of doing either, after confirming from the visitor help-desk we decided to take a stroll in the village market and explore some shops. Although, i keep using the term “village”, these were more like small towns and less of villages.

With so many colourful shops on the either side of the streets and restaurants having their full menu displayed outside, we finally gave in to the temptation and took shelter under one restaurant which looked promising. We had our lunch and it was about time to board the next ferry to the next village.


[Hop-On Hop-Off ferry and people waiting in queue]


[Village of Riomaggiore]




We skipped getting down at Corniglia as it was already getting dark and we dint want to miss Vernazza. Vernazza was more popular as compared to other villages because of more picturesque location. We too captured few at the famous spot, no way were we going to miss that.


[Village of Vernazza]

It was getting darker, and train that we were supposed to catch for our return journey was from Vernazza. So we decided to skip Monterosso al Mare as well.

The train station was jam packed. We bought our tickets and started waiting for the train. Almost all the people on the station were tired, seemed like they had been hopping on and off the ferry whole day. Traversing through all these villages can be quite tiring actually but if you have a smart wife, you dont have to do all the villages and just visit the important ones .. ahem ahem .. no i am not trying to show off

After letting go quite a few overcrowded trains, we finally got into one and got down in La Spazia. Got into Dhanno, reached our hotel and called it a day!
 

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Day 10: Munich (Via Neuschwanstein Castle)



Today was going to be a long day on the road. So we got up a little early, quickly got done with our breakfast, packed our bags. It was a bright, sunny day again, so we did a little bit of photo-shoot (off-course) before we could start moving towards Dhanno.








The place we were staying at did not had private parking for the guests, so we had to park Dhanno on the street (it was a safe street thou).

Any human with a heart would cry looking at the plight of this handsome young man but not this lady with the camera …


Getting all the stuff back in the car took some time, and there we were, back on the road towards Germany.

It was a long drive, took us almost 8 hours to reach Neuschwanstein Castle. By the time we reached, the castle was already closed. It was a quiet, deserted town. We started finding a place to park Dhanno as you have to walk to the castle and cars are not allowed.

After consulting a taxi guy, we found a parking area. Parked the car and started walking in the direction of the castle. We were hardly 100 mtrs through when it stuck to both of us that castle is already closed, and it was getting dark and would easily take us 20-30 minutes to reach the castle and we weren’t even sure if we will get a nice view of it from outside.

We looked at each other and unanimously decided to get back in the car and drive to Munich, where Aarti’s friends were waiting for us.

We had hardly moved a half mile when this beautiful view of the castle made us take another stop, photographs had to follow.





After spending another 3-4 hours on the road we arrived in Munich with warm hearts and roti’s awaiting us.



After having a nice gup-shup session over some really good Indian food (nothing beats Indian food), we called it a day and checked into Hotel Angelo.



 

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Day 11: Czech Republic



After giving our bones much needed rest, we had one of the better breakfasts of our trips here. The hotel staff was kind enough to let us park Dhanno right next to the hotel entrance as the underground parking was not high enough to accommodate our car.

Aarti loved the tea that was served on the breakfast table, and the waitress was amazingly kind, she packed few of those for the trip.

We got all the stuff back in the car and started for Prague. Climate was really nice and warm, what can one ask for when on the road! :)

It was already noon and Prague was roughly 400 kms away, which meant we would not be able to check out Prague today and will have to do that tomorrow morning.

Road were as clean and clear as you would expect from any country within Europe, enjoying the beautiful scenery along the twisting and turning roads we reached Prague in the evening. Aarti had booked us a nice palace converted hotel, Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace. We picked up necessary stuff and checked in. There was not much light left in the evening, still we came out for a walk and hunting for a nice meal. We decided on having “Thai” cuisine and found a nice restaurant nearby.

To our surprise the owner was from Scotland, we had a good chat with him. The food was good which ended our day in Prague on a high note.

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Day 12: Prague To Linz, Austria

We woke up a little early as yesterday we arrived in Prague when the sun was going down. The beautiful place it is, it deserved some quality time from us but before that we checked out our hotel which itself was quite mesmerizing.





We had our breakfast in the hotel, got out stuff in the car, requested the hotel guys to keep an eye on the car as we were going to check out nearby places on foot. Prague is prone to theft (like any major tourist destination is) so be careful where you park your car filled with all kind of stuff!

It was beautiful day with sun shinning bright. We walk to the famous Charles Bridge (14-15 Century) and there were hoards of people (tourist) enjoying the views and performances by local artist. It was more like a festival going on, people smiling and laughing, vendors displaying their stuff to lure in customers. The bridge was indeed beautiful as were the life size sculptures on the bridge walls.




We wanted to spend some more time there but it was already afternoon and we wanted to checkout few more things before we exit Prague. Aarti guided me through narrow streets to old town square which did not seem motor-able, there were infinite people walking, eating out, shopping, clicking photos. Although we could not see any sign which suggest not to drive on this street, to be on a safer side i just parked it on the side and sat inside, while Aarti got out to click some pictures of the o this Prague Orloj, which is a 15th Century astronomical clock, third-oldest and the oldest one still working!




Our next stop was Slovakia, but Aarti remembered that she had one relative in Linz, Austria. It was a detour but we did not want to miss this opportunity to meet them especially after Aarti told me that they own an Indian Cuisine restaurant in Linz .. he he

Our destination Restaurant New “Namastey” India was 250 kms, and i could already feel my tongue pissing thinking about a nice cup of Indian Chai, Daal, Chappati, Tandoori Chicken etc.



Driving within Austria is a beautiful experience, wide and excellent roads, beautiful sceneries, greenery all around, nice fresh air. By the time we reached Linz, it was already dark, we parked our car and walked in the Restaurant. We were warmly greeted by Aarti’s cousin and his business partner. I finally got my hands on to a nice cup a chai after a loooong time, i will let my smile do the talking :-D

After we enjoyed a nice Indian meal, we visited Aarti’s cousin’s place to meet the family and then called it a day after reaching our hotel for the night.
 

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I know there aren't a lot of replies, but PLEASE keep the updates coming!

Martin
 
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