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Old 13th September 2011, 15:51   #1
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Default Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Europe.
We had always wanted to go to Europe. I guess a lot of people want to go to Europe. We were two of those lot of people.
And indeed a lot of people do go to Europe.
There is an entire industry setup in India to take you to Europe and bring you back.

We also wanted to go to Europe. We actually wanted to do Europe.

Now how do you "Do Europe".

Do you take a flight to Paris and gaze at the Eiffel Tower?
Do you sit on a train and and see the cows zipping buy?
Do you stand in a cathedral and look at the ceiling
Do you just stare at the statues and wonder if they were every alive?
Do you climb a platform and gaze at the Fjords?
Do you scale a mountain peak, holding onto ropes for your dear life, just to get a glimpse of a glacier older than time itself
Do you ride a metro railway older than your Grandfather?
.
.
.

As you can see the list is endless. This is where lies the problem. Its not a city. Its not a state, its not a country.... Its a continent.
A big continent.

An entire industry is sitting there. You just pay them the money, and they will make a plan for you, and make you see Europe. 5 days? 10 days? 15 days? Gentlemen, its all there.
Effortless, painless except on the wallet front.

And here was the second problem.
We did not want to see Europe.
We wanted to do it.

Just wanted to stand and stare.
Gaze at the glaciers older than time itself
Listen to the cowbells.
Get wet in the waterfalls
climb the lofty peaks of the alps, and just soak it all in.

The industry could not help us do it.
It could just take us to see Eiffel tower. Or stuff us in a bus or train and look at the world through tinted glass.

so an idea was born. Long time back. years back.
The idea needed a push. And a push came in the form of a family event in a country which was never ever in our plans.

And so was born this trip.
Sonata Europa

My ears still ring with the symphony called Europe. And as I gather my wits and start processing the 2500+ pics and a dozen videos, you can probably look at these teasers?

they are a fraction of our trip. I don't even know whether they are good. For us they are memories. Memories of a trip which was not what we planned, yet everything we planned, and everything we did not plan.

So what is Europe?
Its a symphony,
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Its Art
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and sculpture
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Its a land of Fairy tail castles
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a land where story books were written on banks of Idyllic lakes, in lazy villages with flowers hanging out of balconies
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Its a land of roads, which inspire, and yet terrorize
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Its a land of grand cathedrals, which awe and make your mouth go wide open
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Its a land of waterfalls, which you hear much before you see them. Which can drench you from a 100 feet away!
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Its a land of passes which are meant to be driven in a Lotus Elise
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A land where trains snake their way through glacial lakes and lofty alpen peaks
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A land where glaciers millions of years old watch themselves dying, receding
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.....
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:03   #2
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Its home to the Matterhorn
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Its home to the mightly Aletsch, the largest glacier in the Alps, the glacier which may no longer be there after a 100 years
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Its home to mountain lakes, which when still can hold you for hours, and when not still can move you for hours
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Its a land where a sports car is not a tractor with a 1000bhp engine, but a nimble machine made for the curvy road
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A land of the kung fu cows
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A land where no matter how much you pray, you get a MPV of the year for rent
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Its where 72 waterfalls cascade down half a km, and land only as mist
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A land where glaciers adorn the passes and force you to stop, no matter how much the hurry
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A land where you wonder, do these colors exist?
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A land where Rainbows Garland the roaring cascades
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.....
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:10   #3
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Its a land of 1000 year old cathedrals, which were bombed to nothingness, and yet rise again from the ashes
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Its the land of the Railjet, which will zip you across 5 countries in a day
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Its home to grass fields, which claim to be airports, from where you take a plane just to jump out
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Its a land of the ancient cities, cities risen out of the ghost of soviet union,
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Of castles which light up in the night
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Of heroes and warriors, and of gates
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Of ancient bridges, rebuilt....
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And a lot more.
What we saw was probably not even 1/4 Europe, heck not even 1/10th
Yet it was more than what we expected.

Finally... we found a place that rivals Ladakh. If not in sheer beauty, then atleast in the experience.
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:26   #4
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Thread moved to Travelogues section
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:42   #5
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

This is going to be big and beautiful.

Waiting for more.
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:44   #6
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

awesome and kicka$s stuff boss. I can see hungary and switzerland and a bit of italy (or italian switzerland part?) in the pikchas. Very nicely done. You make me nostalgic
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:46   #7
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

I post only rarely on TBHP (but lurk often), and this thread, with its wonderful photos and witty caption, deserves to be appreciated. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:47   #8
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

and tsk1979 strikes back!! Amazing pics Tanveer, such pristine vistas. It is a treat to see places through your eyes and lens.

glued to the thread and eagerly waiting for the next installment.
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:54   #9
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Awesome pictures Tanveer. It will be great if you can share itinerary and costs as well - will greatly help people like me who are interesting in doing Europe
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:58   #10
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Default The Plan

The Plan is usually simple.
In this case also it was simple.
We want to go to Europe.
One line sums it all.

Then comes the complicated parts.
What, where and how.
Train?
Car?
Flight?
Boat?
Walk?

We wanted to do all of that.

And don't forget the where part.
Only one destination, thanks to the family, was finalized Budapest.
Rest?

We could go to france, and take the train eastwards
We could go to Scandanavia and take the train south-eastwards
We could go to Eastern Europe, and take the train Westwards

Very simple.

We decided not to make it simple.
We decided to go to Vienna, and rent a car

Drive it around western Europe and then catch the train Eastwards.

So far so good.

Then there are the mundane details of Google maps, openstreetmaps, Hotels, chalets and last but certainly not the least, of budget.

For the hotels part, thankfully a Tbhpian in Germany pointed us to a good site for finding out Chalets in Switzerland, where we would spend 6 nights.

chalet means a kitchen, so we could skip on MTR and maggi for some time atleast!

As for transport, it was quite simple, book the cheapest thing we could find, and then pray for an upgrade.

It took us 2 months. It was that simple.
Visa, flights, hotels, cars and food and leaves

And then it was all done.
Bags were packed, and we were ready to Go.
Ready to see western Europe.
Ready to drive the alps.

Ready to do "Europe"!

I know a lot will ask how to do Europe, cheaper than the industry.
Answer is simple
1. Book the cheapest flight you can get to your first destination. Do not fly out of that destination. Cost saving on return flight is not much(1000-1500 max)
2. Book the car from Economy car rentals .com
3. Book hotels from Booking.com, make sure you get a hotel with wifi and breakfast!
4. Book chalets by directly emailing owner. Every village in switzerland(or every major village) has its own website with addresses and phone numbers of Chalets
5. Go either in May or After August ends. Good deals on regional passes in Switzerland(you will need those if you do not want to get bankrupt admiring the sights. Hotels and Chalets are also much cheaper

Plot your route by google and viamichelin, and double the travel times.

Read the Switzerland or Austrian drivers handbook, and mug it up like you would a history exam

Make sure you have maps, and know the names of exits and towns along your planned route.

And make sure you have a GPS, if you want to go off the plan... which we very much did!

Total cost of a self drive Europe trip across western Europe will come to around 2.2L for 2 people for 2 weeks. If you do not eat ice cream you can save 5000. If you like eating out add 20,000
If you like a Mini cooper, add 10,000 more. If you like a sports convertible, add 30,000 more

And buy a lot of MTR and maggi, and stuff your suitcases with it.

About the rest of the plan, it will unfold as the log unfolds

And last but not the least, you will see a lot more cities and landmarks with a package tour, but you will not do Europe, you will just see it

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th September 2011 at 17:06.
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:58   #11
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

This one's going to be Epic! What a lovely teaser. What lovely photos and narration.
Bring it on!
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Old 13th September 2011, 16:59   #12
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Promising start. Looking forward eagerly to the rest of this TL!
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Old 13th September 2011, 17:10   #13
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Excellent travelogue, rated *****
Please give detailed information on cost's and hotels too
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Old 13th September 2011, 17:13   #14
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Congratulations on Europe trip, photos are awesome. Although you have good public transport to travel most of the part of Europe but having car gives you lot of flexibility to stop anywhere and enjoy the nature.
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Old 13th September 2011, 17:18   #15
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Tanveer, bhai, this is not done! A full travelouge must flow like many other of yours. A photolog is just not done. And do post quickly!
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