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Is Travelling Without Money Possible? Here’s My Experience in Europe.

Paris, the city of dreams, romance, and luxury that would have been difficult for me to visit due to the exorbitant hotel prices. The minimum cost I could find on Airbnb for a day in Paris was 50€ (4000rs), and 30€ (2400rs) for a 8-shared dorm, which is mostly unavailable. Yet, I did visit Paris not just once but for several times and adding all those trips, it makes it around 20 days that I have spent in Paris for free. Moreover, I continued my journey in other European countries and that too for free accommodation every time. Is it possible though?

Absolutely yes! Where there’s a will, there’s always a way!

My way was to Hitchhike and Couchsurfing”. Just in case if you’re wondering what couchsurfing is then come aboard with me to the journey of 4000 Kms on which I had been embarked on for 17 days in Europe without spending a single penny on accommodation which in fact is considered the most expensive part of a voyage.

It has been five months in France as a student. I didn’t have work rights on my visa. My semester at the university of Rennes was about to finish and I was almost out of cash. However, the zeal to travel was in there. Being an admirer of Christopher McCandless and of his adventures in the book “Into The Wild” I learned a lot and not just about travelling; it also had an immense impact on my life regarding money and materialism.

I also watched the Ted talk of Tomislav Perko, a well-known traveller who travelled the world for free. I always wanted to try the same adventure but at that moment it felt like I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t really have any emergency money (money for the little surprises that a voyage plans for you which it always does). I have had my credit cards but no cash, so I decided to drop my travelling plans.

Just Kidding! I could never quit on my travelling plans and mentioning the word plan reminded me, I didn’t really make many plans for this journey except I bought a sleeping bag and decided the cities I was going to visit. Here are they :

  • Rennes ~> Lille
  • Lille ~> Brussels
  • Brussels ~> Luxembourg
  • Luxembourg ~> Strasbourg (and a little detour to Kehl, Germany)
  • Strasbourg ~> Paris
  • Paris ~> Geneva
  • Geneva ~> Milan
  • Milan ~> Paris (Via Lyon)
  • Paris ~> Rennes
  • And that is it.

The voyage started in Rennes where I was about to complete my language studies. Rennes is a vibrant city and has a bustling ambiance at some major spots. The secret of Rennes’ charm lies in the great diversity of the heritage. Over a relatively small area, a pleasant stroll spans the centuries, changing from one era to another with no significant rupture.

Rennes, France

The metro and the bus service are quite good in Rennes even though only one metro line is available. The well-known Rue de la soif roughly translates as “Drinkers Alley” or “The Thirsty Road” is inspiriting to spend your weekend. It holds a record in France for having a bar every 7 metres. In other words, it is the Hauz Khas village of Delhi, India.

Drinker’s Alley – Rue de la Soif
Beautiful by day – Vibrant by night

Another great part of the city is that you need to know a few people and every time you stroll in the city, you are going to encounter at least one familiar face. Moreover, les Bretons (people of Brittany) are super friendly so you won’t have any problem making new friends and it’s here, where I commenced my journey to this wabi-sabi world.

Gregarious Lille

I have no clue where to begin about this amazing city where I had countless fun. I arrived in Lille on 31st of May. My host Greg came to pick me up at the bus station where I met him for the first time. He’s a forty three year old, well now a forty four year old man who loves to meet travellers around the world. He has already hosted more than six hundred couchsurfers from almost fifty countries.

By the way, I forgot to mention about Couchsurfing. It is an amazing platform for travellers to find an accommodation to stay for free. Yes, you read it right – Free it is. The application allows two strangers to connect and offer a diverse cultural experience to both users – The host and the guest. I dropped a request to stay in Lille on my couchsrufing application and Greg contacted me. I confirmed my arrival after getting the details and that’s how I found an amazing mate and a home I am always welcome to in Lille.

Greg lives in a 1BK apartment in vieux-Lille (Old Lille). We walked all the way to home from the bus station where a Brazilian couple (travellers), who were Greg’s guest just like me, were cooking Brazilian food which we all ate later and it looked healthy and tasted delicious. After a while, we were joined by a friend of Greg who came from Marseille, to participate in the Gay pride the following day. I didn’t know about this event when I made my “plans” for Lille but believe me I was lucky that I didn’t miss it. Moreover, I was staying at Greg’s and that made it much more fun but that’s all about the next day, that first night, we spent it in a club boozing and dancing. Here are some pictures.

Brazilian food that the couple made, well the guy made and it might look a bit strange, but it was scrumptious.
Don’t think of me as a pervert, it must be Greg 😄
Sunset while strolling in the evening near city park in Lille.
Couchsurfer’s wall at Greg’s. People write about his hospitality.
Well this hazy picture doesn’t know that I remember everything about that night.
Greg, Mathieu and I

The next day started with miss Amira (Greg’s cat) giving me a massage to wake me up.

We were ready to leave the apartment by 9:30. Greg and I took a stroll to see what was going on in the city. The city seemed more flamboyant than it usually would be. There were people playing beer pong. The city was out on the roads and that is what I like about festivals in France that the whole city celebrates it together. I have been a part of many festivals and it was every time a wonderful experience. We moved on to a near by place “Gay village” where the stage was set and live music was going on, one guy was dancing and a lot of colourful shops were omnipresent to give away free stuffs like condoms, badges etc. It was there, in that Gay village, where I had my best sandwich in France “poulet sandwich”. The fun was just getting started.

Gay Village in Lille, June 2019

Later, we moved to the city centre to have our lunch. Mathieu was also with us now and another Indian guy joined us there who came from Romania for some work and was going to stay at Greg’s. So far, yesterday, It was the Brazilian couple, Greg, Mathieu and I. Today, the Brazilian couple moved to Paris, and so it was Greg, Mathieu, Gay couple from Brussels (Did I even mention them), Indian guy and I and all of us in one hall at Greg’s. Greg used to keep inflatable beds which were really useful as I was sleeping on one, however I was also carrying my sleeping bag. We finished our lunch and took a cab to home so that the Indian guy (I really don’t remember his name) could leave his luggage.

Now, the Gay pride means fun in Europe. It is celebrated in many European countries and on different dates in different cities. We went to the city centre again to join the parade. It was an awesome experience to see such a vibrant and huge celebration. People were dressed up differently and some just wore their exotic lingeries. In lieu of describing it thoroughly in words, going to share some videos so that you feel the vibes.

Gay Pride 2019, Lille
There’s Greg!
Beer pong at city centre, Lille
Durex stalls and their advertisements.
Lille trip highlights

Altruistic Brussels

Next day, I left Greg’s place at 7 in the morning even though we spent the whole night at a bar having fun. Greg even paid for my drinks and entry fee for the bar as I was on a budget. My bus was scheduled for 8:30 and the bus station was a 20mins walk from Greg’s place that took me 30-35 mins as it was a but tricky to find the station. Earlier, before leaving, I discussed with Greg that I haven’t found a host in Brussels yet and I am still looking for one who can offer me something to crash on. Greg shared some contacts and I texted them asking for a free accommodation. I was in the bus to Brussels with not wanting to spend money on a hotel/hostel and I kept my sleeping bag for a similar situation. However, luckily before I arrived at Brussels bus station, I had not one but two hosts to choose from.

I chose Henri, a French language professor in a Belgian university who turned out to be a wonderful host and a very interesting person to talk to. He asked me to meet him at a language workshop at some bar around 4-5 O’clock.

I arrived in Brussels around 10 O’clock, so I used all the time to explore the city’s main touristic spots. I also wandered in every city which used to take me to different non touristic places. In Brussels, I visited Grand place, Manneken pis and I entered a few markets while roaming around the city. Usually, I am not up for clichés though when it comes to food, it must be respected, lmao. I savoured the famous Belgian waffles, Belgian fries and though the Brazilian couple at Greg’s had already offered me some Belgian chocolates, I did taste some in Belgium for free. I used to enter the chocolaterie and they always offer you some to taste, trust me nobody minds if you don’t buy. Moreover, when you’re travelling on a budget and you get free cultural flavours, Never Deny!

Waffles starting at 3€
Random street
Chocolate shop in Brussels

After having spent the day wandering around in the city, I met Henry at the bar. He put my rucksack in his car as we stayed for an hour to enjoy the workshop where I talked to some other locals and tourists who were the part of the workshop before heading for Henry’s. Unfortunately, I spent only one evening with him but it was an amazing evening. We talked over different topics and luckily I kept something for such an occasion, I gifted him the book “Khuswantnama”. For Greg and for my host in Strasbourg, I bought Calvados as a parting gift from an intermaché in Rennes. Henri made plenty of arrangements and cooked healthy food for dinner. I got to know more about Brussels from him and he also helped me to prepare for my next day’s 220kms hitchhiking journey from Brussels to Luxembourg. We made paper cards and a plan on where to start my first hitchhiking experience.

At first, I was supposed to take the couch in the hall and use my sleeping bag as there were two more travellers staying at Henri’s. A girl from US and a guy from India. The guy decided to stay out the whole night and I got the room luckily. I didn’t mention earlier that Henri has also hosted many couchsurfers. The number is even greater than that of Greg’s.

The arrangements that Henri does for the guests.

Next morning, I had no bus ticket but a destination to reach. I was all by my own to reach Luxembourg. I knew it would be good to start early, so I set off at 6 or 6:30 in the morning from Brussels after having said “good bye” to Henri.

You know what- bidding farewell is not easy when you make a connection with someone in no time. It was hard for me to say good bye to many people during my journey though I learnt this during my first voyage in Goa in 2017 that –

Parting is such a sweet sorrow if you know the pleasure of reunion.

Anonymous Supertramp

Lavish Luxembourg

It was pouring when I left Henry’s. I took a tram and a metro to reach my destination to commence my first hitchhiking journey. I read about two good spots on Hitchwiki. The first spot was a petrol pump and when I got there, I was frightened by the hustle and bustle as I was expecting less crowd so less people looking at me when I stand with the paper placard. I couldn’t do it there and started walking to the next location for next ten mins. Meanwhile I kept thinking if I can still catch a bus and just for the sake of an alternative, I checked the buses but either there was none or they were hell expensive. I arrived at the second preferred spot as per Hitchwiki and had no other option but to execute the experiment and it became the best experience of my life.

Read about my Hitchhiking experience here : Is Hitchhike in Europe Safe?

Four hours of Hitchhike journey was worth a lifetime experience and a few lessons. My third ride dropped me near to the Luxembourg city centre and it took me a few minutes of walk to appreciate this view.

I didn’t even spend 24 hours in Luxembourg but that’s okay I’ll visit it again. Also, Luxembourg is a small country and the capital city is walkable for a traveller. I walked 20kms or more in Luxembourg city and didn’t use any local transport. Pure Courage, isn’t it?

After having watched around all the spots and having had a Kebab and fries in my lunch, I went to a park around 5 in the evening and stayed there a while. It is the best park I have ever been to as it was a park but it seemed like I was in the woods. Some people were jogging and a few were walking. Unfortunately, I didn’t click pictures because I was completely worn out. I walked in the park for a while and then sat on a bench. I felt extremely worn out. My eyes ached and started to tear up. I decided to take a nap and used my rucksack as a pillow and put my phone under my pant for safety and dozed off. Perhaps the most satisfying nap I ever had.

Side note, you should try fries in Luxembourg, it was the ‘most satisfying’ fries I have ever had.

The reason for spending only one day in Luxembourg was that I didn’t get any host and I had no place to stay but the open sky. The option was either the sleeping bag at a bus station maybe or find a way. As I mentioned earlier, this journey was a trial for me to travel the world in a way only few people would dare to. I wasn’t ready for all the risks in the first journey itself (will sleep in it next time maybe) so after a few hours of my arrival in Luxembourg, I started to look for a solution.

Around at 2 O’clock, I knew it was already late to wait for a host anymore. I decided to take an overnight bus to Strasbourg to cope up with the situation of being stranded on the road at night. Also, so that I could sleep in the bus and it seemed a fair plan as I already had an offer from a host in Strasbourg.

I woke up from my nap and went to the city centre where I watched some people dressed as same and performing with a flag. I spent some more time and then headed to the same place for another Kebab and fries, this time I took those fries twice. The bus I booked was scheduled to depart at 1:30 a.m.

Kebab and fries with my favourite Algerian sauce.

I arrived to the bus station around 10:30p.m. as I didn’t want to roam around the city at midnight. I walked to the station using GPS and still had to ask a guy in a restaurant for proper directions. Luxembourg, though a small city, gave me too much to remember and one best thing happened at the bus station as well.

I met an amazing and enthusiastic man at the Luxembourg bus station. I am good at making friends and new connections with people and I truly believe that you can learn many things from the surroundings – Human Animal, Animals, Trees, Birds – Nature has placed everything to learn from all around us. It is well said that “Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls”. I learned a lot this way.

His name is George, a Filipino American, 71 years old, I have been writing about him on my Instagram often. He gave me his wonderful perspective on life. Something he said and I would like to quote “I am not someone who will wait for death to come, my life is a gift and I am gonna make the best out of it. I travel to feel alive”.

His sense of humour and his zeal for life touched me. I told him about my trip and all the fun I had during my journey. He appreciated the way I was travelling especially the hitchhiking part as I was ready to take risks for something I loved. He always wanted to travel to Eastern Europe but wasn’t courageous enough because of its reputation. He offered me to travel to Eastern Europe with him in 2020 and that he would take care of everything. We still exchange emails once a month to stay in touch.

Here’s a picture of him

Subtle Strasbourg

This post is still in construction and I’ll complete it soon by adding my experience in Strasbourg, Paris, Geneva and Milan.

So is it possible to travel for free?

I’d like to say that it is 100% possible for domestic travelling. People have done it but it is practicable only if you have the courage to make it practicable. Also, it is important to mention that for international travel, as you have to buy a flight and pay for a visa, it is not 100% percent free but everything else can be free.

Since I was already in France for my studies, I didn’t have to pay for a separate flight and visa. Luckily, French Student visa allows a person to travel to all Schengen countries in Europe. I made the best out of it that I could by travelling to six countries and I always used couchsurfing. I never paid for accommodation, the most expensive travel expense of all.

In Lille, I was with Greg and he was generous enough to pay for my bar entries and drinks as well. I did spend money on food in Lille but accommodation was free and commute from Paris to Lille was cheap, only 3€.

In Brussels, I didn’t have to pay for my food either as Henri was kind enough to offer me dinner and I had packed some snack for the day. I spent hardly 5€ in Brussels. I even got Belgian chocolates to taste for free 😉

In Luxembourg, I didn’t spend money on the travel commute as I hitchhiked all the way from Brussels. It was a wonderful experience and during my future journeys, I am going to do it pretty often. I spent money on food only around 10€ for buying Kebab twice in a day in Luxembourg.

One of the reason for spending money was also that it was my first trip and I didn’t want to miss out on something like having the famous Belgian waffles or fries. As I mentioned enough, it was a trial to something much bigger I am planning. It was a trial to see if travelling for free is actually possible and I found out my answer. It is.

In Strasbourg, I didn’t spend money on accommodation and I always used to walk anywhere and everywhere. I didn’t have extra money to spend nor I wanted to. I wanted to see how far I am willing to go to make my dream possible, dream of travelling the world without money. I even traversed the international border between France and Germany as it lies in Strasbourg. In 2018, I remember I gave a detailed exposé in my French class at Alliance Française de Delhi on the topic – “Travel without money” and I truly believed in it.

The biggest achievement to this quest was that I never paid for accommodation in all of those seven cities. I saved on commute by hitchhiking and at several occasions, I was offered free food and drinks. Like in Geneva, almost everything was free for me. I had an accommodation, my host Mohi was offering me food as well and I didn’t use to pay bus tickets (not recommended). I was ready to take all the risks to quench my wanderlust.

Finally, if you have a dream and you do believe in it, no one can stop you. Travelling without money is my dream and I am willing to pursue it at any cost, HeHa not literal cost. It is not like I can’t afford to travel but it is the way I want to travel and it allows me to travel further than I can afford. Plus, I don’t just want to see Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal but I want to live Paris and Agra. I want to make connections with people all around the world. I want to see if humanity is still alive. I want to find myself in this huge world. Therefore, wait for it until I make it 100% free.

Subscribe the blog for my next post on how to deal with the situation if you lose your Indian passport in a European country.

Also, check out our freebies. I am offering free trips and language classes to some ambitious Indian youngsters in India.

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The potential impacts COVID-19 will have on your travel plans?

I hope you all are well and safe. Right now is not an easy time, things are pretty messed up around the world due to Covid-19. Many countries are lifting their lockdowns, but international travel is still prohibited in all European countries as well as in many Asian countries. At this moment, the last thing we want is to book a flight, an international flight.

However, the adventure is not over, it is just postponed and even if it is hard to see a silver lining right now, it is important to look at things optimistically and consider a variety of possibilities. Here are a few possibilities for travellers and travelling industry after this is all over. These predictions might change with time, but this is what I see on the skyline.

DESIGNER MASKS WILL BECOME A NEW TREND.

Unfortunately, it is true and we must admit that masks are going to be a part of our life for a few years. In lieu of risking our lives, we can simply make it a new trend and buy a few to match it with our clothes, just like a tie.

While my first step out after 65 days of lockdown, I visited a market and encountered a roadside shop selling vibrant masks in a market in Delhi. In the same way that companies have made luxury, fashionable travel baggage, we will most likely see “desirable” travel masks worn by Instagram influencers.

Colourful masks – 2 for 100rs at Lajpat Nagar market, Delhi.

DOMESTIC TRAVEL WILL BE PREFERRED.

For a quite some time, everyone would avoid travel for leisure but once we can safely move around, people are going to be looking to get out a bit. The first option would be to travel in a personal space as it provides extra safety and you will not be in a closed cabin with a lot of people around you. Thus, everyone’s first choice will be a car. In European countries, people would also prefer vélos (cycles) available everywhere to move around the city. I know I’d love to head to Uttarakhand after this is all over since it’s near by and offers nature, fresh air, and it’s not difficult to get to.

The airline industry has taken a hit due to the pandemic and will have a hard time recovering it since people will be avoiding international travel for sometime. Moreover, the fear of boarding a crowded airplane where someone can be sick, people are less likely to spend money on an international trip with so much economic uncertainty.

AIRPORT AND VISA RULES

The International as well as Indian airports are Covid prepared as the domestic travel commenced on 27th May in India. The airport authority is making sure that the rules are followed. Touchless scanning of boarding pass is in place and chairs and sofas in seating areas are marked out to maintain social distancing.

This is saddening that we need to put masks as well as cover our faces throughout the journey.

I am more concerned about the international travel. Some countries will not even take the chance of testing at the border. Especially if you’re coming from an outbreak hotspot. There is a possibility that we may need to provide a covid test report before entering an international border or the countries may even add it in the visa document list. Who knows? Just a plausible fact.

Sri Lanka has already come up with a bunch of rules for Indian tourists such as the minimum duration of the stay must be at least 5 days. Furthermore, Sri Lanka relaunched free visa on arrival for Indian nationals in January, but now it is annulled and you will have to pay 100$ (7700rs, I was really hoping dollar to be 71-72) to get a visa valid for 30 days. You will also have to get tested for coronavirus before you board the flight. A negative PCR test is required prior to boarding the flight and on arrival. The test should be no older than 72 hours before you board. The PCR test on arrival will be conducted free of charge.

HOTELS WOULD BE PREFERRED OVER AIRBNB AND HOSTELS.

The hotel industry especially the average star hotels have been suffering for years because of the rise of Airbnb and other rental options. Once the movement becomes better, they will come out of this positively as they are likely to have tighter restrictions when it comes to cleaning. Airbnb may not always deliver what it promises and taking a risk is not what people are going to prefer now.

BUDGET TRAVELLERS WILL SUFFER

Unfortunately, Budget Travellers are either most likely to drop their plans for a while or end up taking luxury trips. Everything is going to be expensive for sometime and even though there will be deals available, it won’t match a budget traveller’s pocket except if they wanna pour money down the drains.

What breaks my heart is that people will be avoiding Couchsurfing for a long time. Even when travelling will become a little normal, you will not see many offers on Couchsurfing as people will be cautious and this is what they should do though but it still breaks my heart. I travel for the travel’s sake- to make human connection and that probably will not be the case for a few months.

Hitchhikers will no longer be seen on the roads. Budget travellers prefer to hitchhike often to save money on the commute but after covid-19, this is less likely to happen as they might end up not getting any ride at all.

FIVE TRAVEL GEAR TO BE ADDED AFTER COVID.

1. MASKS.

2. SANITIZERS.

3. HAND GLOVES.

4. TISSUES AND NOT HANDKERCHIEF.

5. COMPASSION

This one is crucial. Since the virus outbreak, there have been several reports about how people have been giving hard time to Chinese nationals or to people from North East India. Moreover, soon there will be more issues as the movement becomes better with fellow passengers in a metro or a local train. Sneezing and Coughing will be seen as grave sins and people who would do it, will be scorned down by every passenger.

I would like to request you to be compassionate to others. Sneezing and Coughing happening in a certain manner like under a mask must not be frowned upon. People used to sneeze and cough before as well and that’s common but now what we need is to keep a distance from others and take the precautions required. We should not make someone feel uncomfortable because of a cough or a sneeze. We don’t have to look and tell just because someone sneezed a mile away from us. I know we are very good at reflexes when it comes to mock someone.

Same goes for someone’s origin, let’s not be a racist and take all the precautions we need to for our safety. Moreover, keep in mind that once we move out, we put our lives in risk even before pandemic. Don’t let Covid ruin our manners or else just stay at home until the situation becomes better for you.

Translation
Corona Virus : It made more people racist than sick.

Finally, yes the possibilities do look quite blue at the moment for travellers and for the whole travel community, however it is important to stay optimistic and believe that this too shall pass. We will travel again and that too like never before. Heha, this is in fact true as a lot of things have already changed. As I mentioned earlier –

Now while bidding you a good day, I’d suggest you to read my post about “Hitchhike in Europe”, if you haven’t read it yet.

P.s. I will keep updating this post with the changes I observe as I start to go out more often.

Update on 7 June

Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly half (54%) of Indians to cancel their summer travel plans for this year leading to more distress for the travel industry. Additionally, 1 in 5 affluent Indians also said they would wait a full year before traveling again.

Update on 10 June

Japan to offer subsidy on domestic travel.

Last month, the Italian island of Sicily announced that it will pay a portion of traveller’s post coronavirus trips costs by covering half of airline tickets plus one out of every three hotel nights.

Now, Japan is looking for similar creative ways to fill its empty ryokans, bullet trains and sushi restaurants. The head of the Japan Tourism Agency recently announced that the government is creating a plan called the “Go to travel” initiative, which aims to boost tourism by offering to subsidize a portion of travelers’ expenses. Travelers were initially led to believe that it was going to cover international travel expenses. Japan Tourism is currently saying that the program will only apply to domestic travel, but off-the-record sources say the program could follow Italy’s lead by extending the subsidy to international visitors when travel restrictions are lifted.

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Paris! A Flaw-less destination ?

Paris has long been one of the most visited cities in the world. From its incredible architecture to its world-renowned fashion and esteemed cuisine, yet most of the tourists have this Paris Syndrome, Have you ever heard of it?

Let me tell you, it is a term created to describe the shock or unhappiness tourists feel when visiting Paris, especially when their fairy-tale expectations don’t match the reality they experience once they visit the city.

The view from Sacré cœur

For starters, I would like to mention that Paris does have its charm. That is for certain. But is “The city of love” perfect? perhaps not.

Let’s first discuss its flaws.

1. Safety issues!

Yes, no metropolitan city is completely safe especially when it comes to its tourists. Tourists are the most vulnerable prey thus they often stuck in unpleasant and troubling situations. Likewise, some areas of Paris are not really safe either for example, the 18th arrondissement and the Bercy bus station.
The 18th arrondissement is a district where all the Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans live. It is also called le quartier Indien ou Pakistanais, (The Indian or Pakistani District).

I had an encounter with a thieve in 18th arrondissement as well, he seemed a stoner or some kind of serious drunkard who tried to steal my belongings from my rucksack. The moment they get the idea that you’re a tourist, you’re a target for them. Luckily, he could just take a T-shirt and a cap from my bag, the next thing was my DSLR but before he could reach that, my friend saw him. Lucky me!

Bus stations, Railway stations and Airports are the places in any city where thievery takes place the most. I encountered only one unpleasant situation and was even lucky with it but there were also people who were not. I saw a guy running around the CDG airport asking everyone if they have seen someone take his luggage. He seemed extremely troubled and his voice was shaking. It was the day I arrived at CDG Paris for the first time. Similar incident happened to a lady at Bercy Bus station when I was there to take my bus to Geneva. Her whole luggage was stolen while she was talking to the fellow passengers and waiting for the boarding to start.

Therefore an advice from my Parisian friend Bruno, be very careful with your luggage all the time.

2. Tourists everywhere!

Paris has a lot of tourists throughout the year, so it is quite crowded. Moreover, if you’re looking to make friends or perhaps to talk to Parisians, most probably, at first, you won’t know if you’re going to interact with a French person or a foreigner until you ask them. This is also why Paris isn’t a perfect place for a language student who is interested in knowing the French culture and wants to practice French.

3. Parisians dash all the time.

Parisians are always in a hurry as compared to other cities in France, so you may hear the word PARDON often. (My personal experience when I first visited Paris after being two months in Rennes). It gives us a sense of their hectic and stressful life. Just don’t fall in the same pit.

4. Eiffel Tower! Day or Night?

In my opinion, Eiffel Tower doesn’t really give that sensational feeling as it has been portrayed by tourism though it is mesmerizing once the lights are on and then you can take a pretty romantic selfie, better than the one in daylight, or You should visit it on a special day like New Year’s eve or National day of France.

5. Metro life!

Since I am a Delhiite, I didn’t find it as a problem, but Metros in Paris can be congested if you’re not used to it and not all the metros have AC, only a few new metros. The metro is very well connected and you have access to almost every corner of Paris, however, it does make it a little hard to read the map and interchange for other lines. Be ready to walk a nice distance when you change for lines.

I was trying to capture the crowd In the metro, but was also afraid that somebody may get offended and I ended up taking this picture.

However, THE CITY OF ROMANCE is a must to be in your bucket list. Let us tell you why!

1. FASHION

You are thinking about the fashion capital of the world and indeed, it won’t upset you. There are several places in Paris that are quite famous for shopping.

Avenue des Champs Elysées

Let’s say you have a busy itinerary and you will not be able to take out some extra time to visit shopping destinations in Paris but I assume that you must have added Arc de Triomphe in your Itinerary. You’re lucky my friend because this avenue has a splendid view of the Arc de Triomphe & It has a wide variety of shops like Gap, Sephora, Bvlgari, Adidas, ZARA, FNAC and also the Famous Louis Vuitton where celebs like Ariana Grande, Bruce willis and Selena Gomez also came to shop.

The famous Louis Vuitton at the Avenue des Champs Elysées

La Vallée Village (The Shopping Village)

This shopping spot is about 30kms from Paris (though easily accessible via RER A) and it is my favourite even though I cannot really afford to buy anything here. La vallée village is home to prestigious brands like GUCCI, HUGO BOSS, JIMMY CHOO, BURBERRY, TED BAKER, POLO RALPH LAUREN etc. It is easy to get there by RER A & it will take you around an hour. Before we enter La vallée village, we go through a big mall (Val d’EUROPE) with brands like ZARA, H&M, Bershka, Pimkie etc but once you traverse the mall and enter “La vie en Rose” (The Shopping Village), it’s charming, it seems like you’re in a beautiful village of Switzerland. Please expect a waiting queue for Brands like GUCCI, Versace, Prada etc.

Entry of ‘La Vallée Village’
La vallée village
La Vallée Village

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Paris is the city where Coco Chanel invented the iconic Little Black Dress, the city where fashion made some remarkable moments since the time of Kings and Queens. Galeries Lafayette is one of the most popular shopping centers in Paris (you can also find it in almost every other city of France). You get many luxury brands for Jewels, Accessories like Hand Bags, Shades, Watches, Perfumes under the famous glass Coupole of Lafayette, rising up to a height of 43 meters. This shopping center seems like a palace, here’s a picture below.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and the famous glass Coupole

For travellers and bargain shoppers, you should know that France has two sales periods:
Summer sales begin Wednesday, June 25th and end Tuesday, July 29th.
Winter sales start around 8 January each year.

2. Cuisine en France

The French have always been proud of their sophisticated food and globally, French food is known for its finesse and flavour but my vegetarian friends may not get excited as the 75% of it, is non-vegetarian. Don’t worry, you’ll find your favourite.

The Baguette

The baguette is a long and thin loaf of crusty bread and it is the most important part of any French meal. Everyone at the table is expected to have at least one piece. It can be eaten in different ways, including to prepare sandwiches. A single loaf of Baguette costs around 0.75 cents to 1 euro.

La Baguette

Crêpe Bretonne

Let’s start with the national dish of France i.e. Crêpe. It was invented in the thirteenth century in Brittany (Bretagne in French) and it is similar to pancake in shape. You can find many crêperies all around in Paris, A creperie can be a take-out restaurant, a stall or a caf­­­­­­­­­­é. It is sumptuous and not at all expensive hence it is a must while in France and that would be a cherry on the top if you can have it while you’re in Britanny.

The first crêpe I tried in France.
Crêpe with Banana and Chocolat.

Madeleine

Are you Peckish? Madeleine can help you to avert it a little in your busy schedule as I do it when I am at the university or when I backpack, I eat some Madeleine to hold up for quite some time. It is really great for munching and small appetites. Madeleine is popular since Louis XV when he first tasted them at the Chateau de Commercy in Lorraine in 1755. Moreover do you know Marcel Proust’s Madeleine moment in the second longest novel ever written “A la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time? The beautiful description Proust has given is unattainable.

Madeleine, small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions.

Kebab

You all know it already right? I survived my first two months at Alibaba Kebab in Rennes as I don’t know cooking well technically as I did not know cooking. Kebab is not French but it is still in the list because you will find it quite easily not only in Paris but in other European countries as well and in fact the size, shape and so the taste differs from place to place. I tasted Kebabs in Paris, Rennes, Luxembourg city, and Kehl (Germany) and I prefer the one in Rennes. Vegans, you can always find a Subway (The restaurant, not the metro) in the city to find something similar to Kebab, just as we have Veg Biryani and Non Veg Biryani, we have Kebabs and Veg Sandwich/Subway. I let you decide if there’s even a comparison.

Kebab at Alibaba Kebab, Rennes.
Kebab in Luxembourg

Couscous

Did you know that “JALEBI” is not an Indian dessert but was brought here by Persian traders around 1000years ago and so we now consider it ours, The origin of Couscous is North Africa but it is the third favoured dish in France, and the most popular one in Eastern France. I used to eat it often in my university’s cafeteria and It is one of my favourite dish or let’s say French dish. Yayyyy Its veg!!!

Btw where is south of France ? Are they busy making the best wines out there? JK!

Couscous

Let’s include a drink too just in case! Hot Chocolate, They are easy to locate at every touristic place in Paris. I would suggest you to have it in the evening at Trocadéro, when the sun is getting real low and it starts to get a bit cold, I had it and I still remember that wonderful feeling.

Museums

Paris is a city that thrives on its history and if you fancy a dose of culture, you’re at the right place. There are around 130 museums in Paris. The French Revolution, Wars, fashion, musical evolution, Refugees are few examples of the themes subsumed in the many indispensable history museums in Paris. The best place to start is with the oldest museum “ La Louvre”. A museum, furnished with 35000 artistic treasures including the famous portrait “The Mona Lisa” also known as “La Jaconde”. The other famous museums are Museé d’Orsay, The Centre Pompidou, Museé des Arts et Métiers etc.

A word of wisdom

Louvre can take months if you want to see every object in it and one of my friend was ready with her heart and soul to see all the articles at “La Louvre” before commencing her trip however just after her visit to the Museé de beaux arts, she discovered that It was as exciting for her as watching paint dry hence my advise is to think twice before you start bouncing off the walls about museums.

The Louvre Museum

Paris, The city of Architects

The great French metropolis is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, thanks to the impressive cohesion of its architecture.

Paris accumulates a large number of buildings and emblematic buildings of all eras: the Gothic style of Notre Dame de Paris, the neoclassical of the Church of the Madeleine, the Eiffel Tower, among others. But that’s not all, in Paris there are also the works of modern architects like the Louvre Pyramid by IM Pei.

The best way to cherish the quintessential architecture is to stroll through the city of lights.

The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, started in 2006, is an art museum and cultural center sponsored by the group LVMH.
Front view of Louis Vuitton foundation
L’Arc de Triomphe
No, No! It’s not same as India gate except its purpose.
Otherwise it is rich in architecture, a lot bigger than India Gate. Moreover, you can also mount to the top to have a wonderful view of the city.

So do you think you should visit this “impeccable” French city?

One of the most culturally rich and a beautiful city, Paris is testimony to the Egyptian proverb that a beautiful thing is never perfect and personally, I found Paris perfect in its imperfections. Moreover, I got a great friend like Bruno in Paris.

A picture of Bruno. We have our birthday on the same day i.e 17 June so we celebrated it together.

Featured

Is Hitchhiking in Europe Safe??

Did I tell you about the time when I was backpacking across Western Europe and I was in Brussels, Hitchhiking all the way to Luxembourg.

Why would someone Hitchhike when one can just buy a 10 Euro flixbus from Belgium to Luxembourg?

We are all living our own adventures and this is what life is all about, Adventures and Taking Risks. Hitching is one of those adventures that folks believe, is not attainable but in fact it is, however reserved for audacious people and we are so used to our 9-5 schedule that we are afraid of living Out Of The Box, everyone is looking for stability, even when they are unhappy. People are ready go through the bearable suffering for years but would never want to chase their own dream because they’re afraid.

You are going to regret it one day.

After twenty years, will you be happy with the things you did and the adventures you didn’t take instead?

A simple question. Isn’t it?

My first hitching journey commenced in Belgium and the destination was Luxembourg (220Kms).

The Paper placard that I used to Hitchhike.

It took me three rides to reach Luxembourg from Brussels and I learned three Important lessons that applies to everyone’s life. Lets get to know the lessons, ITS WORTHWHILE.

Also, yes it is safe to hitchhike in daylight in Western Europe for everyone, being it a guy or a girl. I haven’t experienced other parts of Europe yet but let’s discover this journey for now.

FIRST RIDE

When I was standing with my first paper banner written “Namur”, It took me around 30 minutes to get the first ride for 60 kms. As it was my first Hitching experience, I was losing hope, people could see me on the road but nobody stopped for a while.

Paec, a young Belgian guy stopped abruptly when he saw me and so my trip began. He was a very soft spoken person who loved to make contacts and meet people from all over the world. He narrated his travel experiences in Europe and I told him about my journey and where I intend to go.

I arrived in Namur from Brussels in 30 minutes and he left me at a decent spot to hitchhike further.
Here’s a picture with Paec.

Arrived at Namur with Paec. I can not suck more in pictures.

The first lesson I learnt was that when you’re on the road to achieve something, it is not going to be easy. You’re going to face many obstacles and failures but the only way to achieve your goal is by not giving up on it so in a nutshell, don’t be afraid to EMBRACE REJECTIONS.

There are so many famous rejection stories out there but my favourite one is the story of JK Rowling and how she was rejected by a bunch of publishers for Harry Potter. You may know it already, now read my tiny story and though I have seen many other rejections but let’s stick to the travelling now.

Life isn’t easy and so wasn’t the time while I was standing with a banner on my hand for the first time, moreover, pedestrians passing by and looking at me while I was smiling only if I made an eye contact with them. Did I even have a choice to do something other than that?

Luckily it was the best thing that I didn’t have any choice but to do what I planned. I have seen people who have the courage to chase their dream but at the same time, they’re afraid of not being able to realise it so they keep an alternative as well and they always end up taking the alternative. In my case, I didn’t keep any such as a bus ticket so I had to do it or else, well, I don’t know what would have been the option since I had no place to go except buying a super expensive ticket.

I waited thirty mins to get my first ride and some people replied with face and hand gestures.

Oh sorry I am going that way

there’s a car behind

Oops can’t help you sorry

but eventually after having been through all rejections, I was able to begin my journey so always remember that there will be someone who will always stop for you, to help you begin your journey. Hold on a little longer and tighter.

“Rejections are the part of the wonderful journey you are embarked upon”

– Anonymous supertramp

SECOND RIDE

I left early in the morning from my host’s place to set off on this journey so I couldn’t eat anything. I sat on the nearby grass for sometime and ate some Madeleines and walnuts that I packed while leaving for this trip. madeleines are soft bread with/without choco chips. I had the simple one without choco chips.

Alas! the destination was still quite long and I could just complete one fourth of it so far. I was standing in front of a car’s showroom in Namur nearby a roundabout and the autoroute in the right went directly to Luxembourg. Again it took around 20-25 minutes to get a ride. Paec finished his work and I saw him going back. I was standing right there where he suggested me to be so I’ll get a ride easily.

Finally someone, I got someone. It was Babou, who stopped a bit far so I didn’t notice if someone stopped and continued to look for rides and then I heard someone yelling to get my attention. I ran towards her and I asked.

Are you going to Luxembourg?”

No” she replied

But I am going to somewhere in between and I can drop you there. You will easily find your next ride to Luxembourg from there” she added.

How far is the place where you’ll drop me” I enquired

Around 40-50kms from here” she replied

I have been waiting for around thirty mins so I looked on the possibility of getting this ride and then the next one to arrive Luxembourg.

Babou was a wonderful girl with humour and a helpful person with a zeal to travel and she told me her travel plans for Thailand. I was also watching the beautiful scenery at the both sides of the road. I don’t know why but I feel attracted to the beauty of wind mills, Yes I find them beautiful and I know it’s just a machine. It is right? Well I don’t know if it is just me who like it or if other people likes it too. I never talked about it to anyone. Meanwhile, Babou and I kept talking about my travelling itineraries, India, the difference between Indian and European culture and a lot more.

Once you’re out there looking for help, you find so many nice people and so Babou was one. She went some extra miles to leave me at the best spot possible for further rides. She left me at a gas station, 5-6kms far than where she had to go.


So what exactly is the second lesson ?
When you are headed on the road to success, there’s no turning back because you will have to walk anyways. For instance once I reached Namur, I couldn’t go back to Brussels because even for that, I had to take a ride and wait which is pointless. Sometimes in life you may feel that taking a step back is better than bearing the suffering and failures but remember success doesn’t happen overnight and it is not easily attainable but it’s definitely worth waiting and if you want to accomplish something, you have to hold your horses. Hence, the second lesson is HAVE PATIENCE!

In the darkest night when you feel there’s no hope left, then comes the brightest morning.”

– Anonymous Supertramp

Here’s a picture with Babou.

THIRD RIDE

I ate some more Madeleines and walnuts at the gas station where Babou dropped me and after a few minutes break, I returned to the road.

The third ride was the easiest one to get. It took me zero mins to get it. I commenced walking towards the road to find a spot to stand and there was a truck coming out of a factory, first I showed him my paper banner written Luxembourg on it and “he shook his head in disagreement” but so far I already learnt the lesson of rejection so I was cool.

I was still walking out of the side road of the gas station to be near the autoroute (highway) and I saw someone going slow in his car and while he sort of tried to figure me out, I ran a little and showed him my super banner. He stopped.

Do you speak French or german?” His first question

Yes I speak French and English” I replied.

You won’t rob me or kill me right?” His following question

The guy who stopped was from North Africa so I just showed him my arm and I said

Do you think I can?”

We both laughed and he asked me to “hop in.”

I loved this situation and it also reminds me of an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where phoebe says to Joey about the Hitchhiker he picked “he can be a rapist or murderer” – Phoebe. On which joey replies “Don’t you think I asked him that”.

It was my final ride and that is how I arrived to the city of Luxembourg. Meanwhile this last journey, we talked almost about the same topics and some more of course as it was the longest distance in all three rides. He told me how he used to pick hitchhikers before but then he stopped doing it and it was after years that he picked a Hitchhiker.


Oh wait the third lesson. So the third lesson is VICTORY.

Who like failures? Well that doesn’t matter, we like it or not, it is a part of life and you will have to deal with defeats and failures in life. The road to success is not easy and the only way to be successful in life is by never giving up on your dream.

To sum up,

Embrace Rejections and improve yourself.

Have Patience in your tough time. The magic will happen only if you believe in it.

There you go, Winner! We are ready to listen to your beautiful speech.

Do not confuse success with money, it is never about the things you own but instead the hearts you won.

– Anonymous Supertramp

I forgot to click a picture with the third friend so here’s a picture from his FB profile. I guess I was all excited to see the city of Luxembourg.

See you soon in my next blog about Paris. Here is the link below.

Paris, A Flaw-Less destination?

Here’s my Trophy! The city of Luxembourg.

What Happens If You Lose Your Indian Passport in Europe

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. If this is true then my journey began a few years back when I applied for my first passport at ITO, Delhi Centre. It was quite easy and cheap to get a passport in Delhi. Yes, cheap because I paid top dollar (Top Euro I mean) to get a new passport in Paris, France.

In June 2019, I had embarked upon a voyage for 17 days in Europe. On the seventh day, I was joined by a female friend in Paris. I will use her initials – VM. We had planned to stay in Paris for two days and then headed to Geneva, Chamonix and Milan. Italy was our last destination after six other countries. I often mention on my social media, a journey always plans some small surprises and so ours was planned right when we entered Milan, just not that small this time.

Before VM joined me, my trip was adventurous yet smooth but after she joined me… Darn, I am just trying the blame game. It was completely my fault but the trip was still amazing, even after the passport chaos that we went through. Moreover, are you even a true traveler if you haven’t lost your passport ever? maybe why not, there are smart people but anyway I got a wonderful story to share and learned an important lesson.

The story traces back to Chamonix, The French Alps. Chamonix is an extremely beautiful town in France near Italy’s frontier and hilariously popular for Europe’s best-known ski resorts. Mont Blanc is the main attraction but there are other mountains and beautiful sceneries all around the town. Since, it is a small town, we planned a one day trip only to see the exquisite Alps. Later in the evening, we had a Flixbus ticket for Milan around 19h.

We wandered in the town from one mountain to the other. The picturesque town with mountains on all side, covered in snow was something I had never seen. The awestruck beauty would have made me write a poem if I were alone, maybe next time. We wanted to climb one of the mountains but before being able to easily climb the Alps, the weather played its part. The stormy rain made us wait for hours as the cable car could not be operated in extreme weather conditions. Finally, when the stormy weather changed its course, I encountered the snow-covered beauty of Chamonix, powerful but kind.

Luckily, I had this red raincoat with me all along the journey.
2000M height

The day was wonderful but exhausting. We walked around the town, got wet in the rain and had to wait for our bus for 3 hours. The weather turned way more blusterous. For around 3 hours, we stayed at the ticket counter due to heavy rain and cold wind. I had a sleeping bag that I and my friend were sharing. I mentioned all these information because fatigue is what I consider the reason for losing our passports. I was wet, cold and exhausted. We boarded the bus for Courmayeur, a small town in Italy just 20kms from French border. While leaving the bus, well not revealing how I lost it yet.

While waiting for the bus to Courmayeur. A bus ride that I will not forget soon or ever.
Passport Lost in Courmayeur, Italy.

Courmayeur is a small town in Italy, near the French border. It was here that I learned that I had lost our passports. For the first fifteen minutes, I panicked – normal human reaction to such blunder. I tried stupid things including calling the Italian police. If this had happened in India to a foreigner, I think the police would have easily recovered their passport. Almost same thing happened with my friend Bruno in Brazil (Brazil? I guess yeah) and the Brazilian police were quick to respond and he got his passport back while the Italian police didn’t do anything. We spoke to the French and English translators and to be honest they didn’t really try to help us otherwise they could easily get us our passports back from the Turin flixbus stand by contacting Turin Police station. We could have picked them up at Turin bus stand. Flixbus also did not help as we asked them for the contact detail of the driver but they refused to give it to us. The cops didn’t try to talk to FLixbus and asked us to follow the bus, lol. The Uber from Courmayeur to Turin was $ 450 or maybe 450Euros.

We had our next bus scheduled for Milan and Courmayeur was just a layover. The night was exhausting and scary on the bus. We had our flights back to Paris from Milan which we couldn’t take without our passports. At around 4 a.m., we arrived at the Milan bus station. The metro was still closed, so we stayed at the station for an hour. A thief was trying to get something out of a passenger’s pocket who got off from the bus. Earlier, he was troubling a couple and I assume that he was high on some drugs. The bus station was trashy and all the “clean” places were already taken. Milan was the only place we didn’t stay with a host. I booked an Airbnb so that we could get some sleep before going to the Indian Consulate.

In the evening, at 4 O’clock, we were at the Embassy. We were lucky that there was an Indian consulate in Milan as there are only two Indian consulate in Italy, one in Rome and the other one in Milan. I had already spoken to someone at the consulate in Milan and in Paris when it happened last night.

Passport recovery Option 1

The first option was to get an emergency passport to board the flight back to Paris or possibly India. In my understanding and after researching online, I discovered that emergency passports can only be used to return to one’s country of origin. The cost of the emergency passport was 2100rs each. We chose the second option. It was a bit risky but it seemed reasonable. I regret losing our flights for which I never got any refund. In addition, I had to make new arrangements to return to Paris from Milan.

Option 2

As I was a student in France, and our visas were valid for months, we could apply for a new passport which according to the consulate might take 21 days. We opted for the new passport but the difficulty was – how could we go back to Paris and what if the officer at the border checkpoint asks us for our passport. We went to the Milan police station and lodged a complaint that we lost our passports and got a copy of that FIR to be used later for applying for new passports in Paris but also to help us cross border.

Meanwhile, we didn’t waste our visit at all. We visited some famous destinations in Milan which includes the cathedral- Duomo di Milano, the famous shopping lane and I bought a t-shirt and VM shopped something that I don’t remember. We also went to the famous Starbucks Reserve.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery showcases the theater of coffee roasting, brewing and mixology in a breath-taking environment in the epicenter of fashion and culture. The Milan Roastery was the first Starbucks location to feature an Arriviamo Bar. There are only six Starbucks Reserve in the world.

Cathedral, Duomo di Milano
Image Source : Cosmopolitan
Starbucks Reserve Entrance
This place was beautiful to sit and sip
If you’re a coffeeholic, you would want to visit this place.
Starbucks Reserve, Milan

As we couldn’t take our flights without passport so I booked a bus from Milan to Lyon and then a train from Lyon to Paris where we were supposed to meet our two other friends Prachi and Meenakshi. They had their flight from New Delhi to Paris on 13th June.

We were at the Flixbus station to catch our bus without knowing that Traveling doesn’t decide on the number of surprises it offers, it can be anything, anytime and numerous. We were denied to board the bus without our passports. They were checking passports of each passenger and when it was us, they said “No passport no bus”. I waited until everyone got on the bus and talked to them politely and in my way. I am good at talking and persuading people. I have been doing it for a long time now. Traveling and meeting new people teaches you a lot and it is something I learned, to talk. Finally, they allowed me with my student Id card but they kept refusing for VM and she didn’t have any other identity proof, maybe some Indian id card but who gives a F about Indian ID cards in europe except Embassy. Somehow I managed to persuade them again to allow her on the bus. They told me that we will be questioned at the French-Italian border and we will have to leave the bus there if asked by the officers. I told them that we will talk to the officers at the border, what else I could say? I remember they said while agreeing “okay but the officer will not let her cross the border”.

In the bus, I was just hoping that we don’t have to face the Douane (border police). Generally, it depends on your route. For example, we entered Italian border and there was no border police to check anything but well, we had to face this one last obstacle. The officers entered the bus. One lady officer from the front door and a Monsieur from the back door. We were sitting in the corner last seat of the bus, extreme last. Before he could ask us, he asked a lady to leave the bus for some paper issues. Holy Fu** situation ( ** because my students read my blog too). I gave them my student id card and it was fine for me. We also showed him the FIR we launched in Milan. The officer asked us to wait while he went out to check something. Perhaps to discuss the situation with someone or to check our visa in the system (if it’s a possibility), I have no idea what he did but we were good to go. We could cross the border. The lady who left he asked to leave the bus, didn’t return though.

Now without taking so much time of yours, let me tell you how I lost the passports. I was exhausted in Chamonix due to weather, rain, cold and hiking in the mountains etc. We boarded the bus for Courmayeur (layover before Milan) just 20kms from the French border. I kept the passport wallet in the front pocket of the seat and when I left the bus, I forgot to take the wallet out and that’s how I lost some bank cards, my voter Id and passports.

It cost us around 121 Euros (9900rs) each to get a new passport in Paris plus the transportation from Rennes to Paris twice. It is not advisable to lose your passport in a foreign land :p

But if in case something like this happens, contact the nearest Indian embassy as soon as possible. The Indian embassy in Paris and Milan is quite responsive on their emergency contact number – +33 648340063 (Paris)

Click here to visit to Indian Embassy in Paris.

I am thinking of writing more and more in 2021. Hope to see you in my new blogpost. If you had the patience to read it until here then I would suggest you to subscribe to the blog (if not already a subscriber) so that you get all new posts directly in your inbox. Just enter your email below to subscribe.

Last time, I had a good passport wallet. This time, I got the cheapest one available on Amazon.

I with my Backpack

Insta : Shubham_supertramp

How to Earn a paid vacation in France

Free language classes

Gare d’Angers

Follow my vacation here. I’ll be making updates every now and then. This is for Bruno and my other blog followers who may not have any social media. See you soon Bruno

Friday, 18 December, Nantes

9:38 am

In train. About to reach Nantes. I had a host in Nantes, a 60 years old lady but she isn’t replying anymore. Well well well. Let’s see. Not my first time when I am going to a city without any accommodation. Have been to Brussels, Luxembourg, Geneva and Milan without any accommodation and it worked always except in Milan.

11:10 am

Walked 50 minutes (3kms) from Gare de Nantes to arrive at an Xray lab and now waiting in the salle d’attente (waiting room) to get done with my chest xray. Nantes wasn’t in my travel list. It’s just I have my OFII rendezvous today.

walk walk walk

OFII stands for Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration . (French Office of Immigration and Integration). Once you step foot in France with a long duration visa, you must register to Visa Validation (ex OFII) to be able to travel back and forth into France after 3 months and during the duration of your Visa. You have to pay an amount depending on your visa category. I paid 200 euros but for students it’s 60 euros I guess.

12:46 pm

There are two different appointments in Nantes to complete ofii. The distance is 4kms. Here’s my ride below.

Bicloo

13:50

First meal of the day

2€ meal

03:11 pm

OFII done!

By the way, I got two new hosts in Nantes and the lady has replied as well so three hosts in total. Well I am staying with the 60 years old lady as planned earlier. getting another Bicloo (bicycle).

16.26

I have arrived at my host’s place. She lives in a wonderful building and close to city centre. The apartment is amazing. Wait for pictures.

11:50pm

Last night I couldn’t make an entry as I was with my host. I am still keeping this entry on yesterday’s date and time.

So how was my time with the host? Amazing but weird. She’s a well I dont know what exactly we call the people who practices magnetism? Ohh darn I must ask her what she does exactly in a word. But she told me some weird things. A lot weird than you can think. I’ll talk about it in a video not all because that can be scandalous. I don’t know if the English word for what she does can be psychic because that’s what I get from all what she explained. But again weirddddd. As a host, she was kind and nice. Everything was good.

I found the word and it’s “medium”. It’s sort of a psychic but not exactly a psychic. What I understand is that it’s psychic pro max. Just kidding, do your research.

Saturday, 19 Dec, La Rochelle

15:26

Ride in La Rochelle. Going out with my host.

Sunday, 20 Dec, La Rochelle

11:25 am

Ready to go to Ile de Ré (Re Island). We are gonna cycling around 50kms today to and fro the Island. When I am with my hosts, I don’t get a lot of time to make updates. I made Egg Bhurji for my host yesterday and we had it with Cidre bretonne.

Egg Bhurji with Cidre

And my host from Nantes has left me a reference. I left a positive ref too as she was a good host just a bit weird but good host.

Host in Nantes

21:18

I was wrong about 50kms. We cycled around 80 kms. I was dying with every pedal on a slope during the last 15kms. I have pain in my foot, thighs, palm, thumbs, upper back, hips and joints near hips and I have a trip tomorrow morning at 9, okay now I have head ache too, lol. One last thing, now if I take a deep breath, I cough. I guess it’s just because of I did excessive cycling and I am not used to it, right?

Taking a hot shower surely helped though and then hot beverages and a hot vegetable soupe. Rachel (my host) is nice. She made it all while I was in the shower. No doubt I meet amazing people during my voyage.

And I also made a video when I finished the mouning part on the bridge that connects La Rochelle to Île de Ré.

I have a lot of photos and videos to share but I guess I will wait for the right time to share it, properly. Watch some selected pictures/videos for now.

Monday, 21 Dec, en route towards Bordeaux

10:00 am

I like to put myself and my body in difficult situations to see if I can be a traveller. In La Rochelle, I experienced 85kms of cycling in 8 hours with a few breaks. All I was thinking during the last one hour was : Stay on the cycling and keep peddling, don’t walk and drag it and don’t blackout haha. We started at 11:30 and returned to my host’s place at 7:30 pm. It was an adventure. I saw an island all of it via cycling. Now I am off to Bordeaux where I am going to be with a family. Still don’t know where I am gonna go after Bordeaux.

Tapestry in a church on Ré island 🏝
It’s raining in La Rochelle

4:00 pm

I am starving and that’s what I wanted to write first.

I have arrived in Bordeaux and met my hosts. They live at a lovely place and in a beautiful abode. I have a private room which is nicely decorated. I am staying with a family. There are three members. A couple, Eric and Edwige and their daughter. I have left my bag in the room and have taken the Tram to arrive at the centre of the city.

Tuesday 22 Dec, Bordeaux

Yesterday evening, I went on a walk to the Place de la Bourse which has a splendid architecture and a pretty sight on the opposite side with the bridge and water.

I came back before the curfew and chatted with my hosts until 2 O’clock in the morning. They are wonderful people and have been hosting Couchsurfers since 2012. I made them an Indian dish and I tasted Bordeaux in Bordeaux.

Eric smoking beedi

Christmas 🎄 in Bordeaux. Sorry what’s covid again?

Wednesday 23 Dec, Toulouse

All these years we have been seeing movies and reading that life is short and you must live every moment possible. While a lot of people may see it differently now because we have a virus among us but I haven’t forgotten that. Life is short. Those who are not living today because they want to live tomorrow are gambling and losing 24hrs each day from their life.

The day I embarked on the flight to Paris, I accepted all the risks and here I am travelling and living while taking the precautions.

En route to Toulouse

I am in the train and the destination is Toulouse “The pink city”. I have finally found a host in Toulouse as it wasn’t easy. Everyone is either moving or having Christmas time with their family and friends. Luckily, we have people like me and Emanuel (my host). He is mexican but living in France from last three years with his French wife Lauren. He seems nice and we have already decided to cook each other and I can keep it spicy without any problem. I am gonna stay for two nights but will ask him for one extra night if possible and if I don’t find a place where I wanna go.

I haven’t decided my next destination after Toulouse yet. It might be Cap d’Agde, or Foix, PERHAPS. I must decide by end of the day.

19:00

Mexican and French host (couple). Discovering Mexican songs and traditions with Emanuel.

Thursday Dec 24, Toulouse

17.00

My host Emanuel and Fred the cat
Learning Mexican shrimps

21.45

Went to a church with my host. He was drumming there for Christmas eve.
That’s my host

Friday Dec 25, En route to NARBONNE

10:30

Merry Chrsitmas everyone

Backpacking and couchsurfing is a sort of fatigue that can remedy all your tiredness. You meet some wonderful souls that energize you to survive your routine for a long time.

I met such people all along my backpacking in 2020. Yesterday I was at Emanuel and Lauren’s and I felt not just welcomed but like we knew each other from a long time. Emanuel is Mexican and married to Lauren (French). Emanuel cooked for me mexican dishes twice. I had a good time with them.

They have two cats. Fred and Mocca.

11:05

They packed me fruits and chocolates for the voyage today. Super hosts!!!

12:35

I love to travel and I love even more to improvise when I travel. I am in the train to Narbonne which yesterday I didn’t even know the name of. A host offered me a couch and there I go. I booked the tickets to visit Narbonne.

I made a good decision, it seems. From one window, I see greenery and fields with trees and crops. One part of the sky is clear and bright sky blue with shining clouds and the other part of the sky is grey covered in clouds. The other side the sky is grey but the view is better as I see big white windmills and plateaus covered with trees. I guess the grey clouds are dominating the sky. There’s a good chance of rain.

22:00

It’s confirmed that I made a good decision. This place is beautiful. I am in Bize Minervois with Vincent and his three kids, a dog and a cat. I went on a walk and I find that the countryside always speaks to me something much more than a city does. Vincent has worked in Paris as a researcher in biology. He left the jobs and bought 5-6 hectares land in his hometown to practise his studies and to grow crops. He invited me again, well all my hosts did but he invited me for a long period to stay in a Cabane if I want to, in May or June, on his farm land. We’ll see. I booked the ticket for Cap d’Agde tomorrow.

Saturday, Dec 26 2020

13:20

I have arrived at my host’s (Erik) place in Agde and we will go out for a visit in his car soon.

Sunday, Dec 27 2020, Montpellier

My hosts came to pick me up at the Gare. Patrice French and Eddie Malaysian living in France for almost ten years. They made me a full lunch meal and I tried some new stuff with them. I am going for a walk alone to see some sites in Montpellier.

14:00

I am walking around a wonderful place in Montpellier with a lot of Christmas decorations. I also booked my ticket to Lyon tomorrow.

Monday 28 December 2020, En route Lyon

I am in the bus to Lyon, a 5h journey but it shall pass. The landscapes are surely amazing to watch.

Tuesday 29 December 2020 Lyon

Where the city was born
Vieux Lyon

How to Earn a Paid Vacation in France

After receiving a wonderful response to my post on How to Travel for Free in Europe, here I am writing this post on a similar yet totally different topic. This post will help people to move to France for 7 months while receiving a salary of 800 euros but you see the word EARN in the title, so yeah it’s not gonna be a cakewalk. It’s not gonna be super fast so if you are looking for a shortcut, this cut is not really very short. However, yes it is 100% genuine so if you’re patient enough and you are willing to work hard to travel, to live the dream you think is quite far to achieve, then it might not be that far either.

This year around 150 students earned this paid vacation from all over India and thousand others from different countries such as USA, UK, Canada, Australia etc. and almost all of us have reached France to commence our experience but what is this experience all about? Why are we getting paid? let me help you answer such questions but first see me posing with my working visa, haha.

India gate, Delhi. I know you don’t see my visa and it’s better that way. lol!

The program is known as Assistant de langue (Language Assistant) or TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) primarily in the US. In India, it is called Assistant d’anglais (English assistant program). Under this program, more than 150 Indian students are recruited to work as English-language assistant teachers in French public schools. The program enables these students from Indian universities or Alliances Françaises to become familiar with the French language and civilization, while bringing the authenticity of their language and the richness of their culture to the institutions where they are employed.

The selected candidates are recruited by France Éducation Internationale on a work contract of 7 months starting in October every year till April. The work duration is 12 hours per week and you get four vacations of two weeks each, I told you it’s a paid vacation. One can also renew their contract for another year.

Before I explain further about the program and its eligibility criteria, I wanna talk about why I want to encourage everyone and not just people who already speak French or are learning the language as having moderate French skill is one of the major criteria of the program.

There are several reasons for sharing it with general public rather than with language students and Indian francophones only as I am sure people, especially young adults, will find it interesting and would consider to work on the eligibility criteria to be able to join the program.

The two main reasons I have- to share it with everyone is that after I joined the program, I received quite a few messages from new applicants who were seeking information and guidance about the program and its application process. All of them wanted to apply for the program however, a lot of them will not be able to apply this year and they are gonna wait for next year’s application. Why? because they do not fulfill the criteria completely even though they fulfill the French language eligibility criteria. Plus, sometimes people don’t get the required IELTS band for the program and so they wait for another year to reapply with the needed score. I took my IELTS exam with some friends and acquaintances in Delhi and unfortunately they could not get the desired band. They may try this year (2020) again and it is pretty normal as getting this opportunity to work in a public school in France while getting paid is truly amazing.

I have a plethora of acquaintances and some juniors who are literature graduate but they never learnt French language but do you know how long would it take for them to get B1 level French certificate which is required for the program. Well, let me tell you how long it took me to get my DELF B1 certificate even though I had no intention to apply for this program in 2017.

I still remember my first French class at Alliance Française was on 09 Jan 2016 and the last day at Alliance Française was 26 June 2017 with a DELF B1 certificate having scored 79.5/100. The criteria is just DELF B1 (DELF : French language diploma ; B1 : third level after A1 and A2) which means a score of 50/100 will work. Now I let you decide how long someone with a goal to achieve B1 would take to acquire this certificate. I took 1.5 years without any rush to get a DELF B1 and I got a good score too. good score right? By the way, I never studied French in school so 09 Jan 2016 was the very first day for me.

Even though, I can put my first attestation proving that I started in Jan 2016, I am gonna assume that people are going to trust me but if it is not the case, this website has a contact page and my Insta handle as well, haha! Lol you all have my age too. who cares! After having completed DELF B1 in June 2017, I took a break from French for a year and joined back AFD (French institute in Delhi) in Sept 2018. In Jan 2019, I moved to Rennes, France for studies.

In short, many applicants who are already learning French wait for a year or two to get selected in the program and to join the program for non French learners, it might take 2 years or maybe 3 years in a rare case. Furthermore, I am pretty positive that the number of recruitment will keep increasing every year just like it did this year. Finally, many among you may have this question – would it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY! see some of it yourself.

Kids at Marie Curie, Murs Erigne, France. One of the school where I teach.

Now moving back to the program details, you must already got an idea about two major criteria but here is a list:

  1. Candidate should be an Indian citizen or citizen of the country from which the candidate is applying.
  2. Should have the student status. (Don’t overlook this one)
  3. Should not have benefited from the program of “English-speaking Assistants” in the past.
  4. Should have a degree (or enrolled in the 3rd year of the Bachelor’s degree).
  5. Should be under 35 years of age at the time of the application.
  6. Should have obtained the British Council / IDP IELTS Certificate of Proficiency with a grade above 7.5
  7. Should have a good level of French: French B1 (DFP, DELF, TCF, TEF, etc.) or B.A. French from an Indian university.
How To Apply?

In India, this program is run by the Institut Français en Inde. The French Institute in India (IFI – Institut français en Inde) is the education, science and culture cooperation service of the Embassy of France in India. To visit the IFI website, Click here.

The application process starts in October (every year) and one can apply until 02nd December. However, the selection process is itself long and the coordinators take 4-5 months to announce the results for the selected candidates after the submission of their application form in December. So even though the process is a bit longer, trust me it is worth it for inordinate reasons that I am not even capable of mentioning but here are some reasons from IFI’s website on WHY CHOOSE ASSISTANT D’ANGLAIS.

Here are some other useful links :

I offer free language classes to people who cannot afford it. You must have a BPL card to get these free classes. To know more about free language classes, Click here.

To learn French language in India, you can contact Alliance Française network in India. To visit their website, Click here.

You can also visit the Instagram page of Assistant de langue.

Even though this post was more targeted to the non francophones Indian, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via mail or via Instagram for any query that anyone may have regarding application process.

Tchao! see you soon on my next post or in comments? maybe!

STAY SAFE PEOPLE!

Six Amazing Places to Visit in France

Travelers in France are always drawn to the mainstream attractions like Nice, Avignon, and of course, Paris. However, France has a lot more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, and the beaches in Nice. While Paris deserves a must visit, many attractions in France are overshadowed by this most visited city in the world. Peaks, Massifs, Oceans, Lakes, Waterfalls, Islands, there are thousands of landscapes, each just as magnificent as the next, just waiting to be discovered. Thus, I decided to write this article to share some breathtaking places in France.

Passage du Gois : The Road That Disappears Twice A Day

This place is at the top of my to-go list for 2020 and I will visit it as soon as I have some information on renting a car or I find a friend who has one.

This route is only available during low tide, which lasts for about an hour. The Passage remains accessible for half an hour before and after low tide, so that only gives you two hours to make the crossing safely.

The Passage du Gois is a natural passage with a length of 4.3 km, located on the Atlantic coast of France connecting the mainland to the island of Noirmoutier. This passage is flooded twice a day by high tide. Take an inflatable boat to drive this 4.3 mile road because for some crazy reason you mix up the tide times, and then – like some vehicles in the past – you might disappear under the salt brine. Located on the Atlantic coast of France, the road is flooded twice a day with rising tides and as the tides go out, slippery seaweed is left everywhere.

This perilous route attracts many tourists every year who want to try the dangerous walk. A certain number of cars get lost every year in the Passage du Gois. If anyone miscalculate the time for their trip, there are poles placed at intervals along the passage so they can get on safely. I would suggest to pack some snacks, just in case.

Mont Saint Michel : The Real Life Hogwarts

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a village in the Manche department in the Normandy region. Only inhabited by 30 Montois (2017), the town is known by the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel which rises on a rocky islet. The site has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979.

I visited Mont Saint Michel twice in 2019 and was mesmerized by its beauty. There are bunch of things to do such as trying the famous crepes, watching the 3d show about its history, an artifacts museum, seeing the houses that dates back to 1100s etc. One can a also book a hotel to stay for a few nights, it might be expensive though.

Established for the first time in 709, this rocky island has a charming medieval village and is crowned by a beautiful abbey fortress dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. The whole island is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and has not changed much since the Middle Ages!
For centuries, Mont Saint Michel has been the center of pilgrims from all over the world. Traveling from near and far, lots of walking for weeks to see this beautiful island and visit the Abbey in its heyday. Mont Saint Michel was and remains a unique site to visit in France and around the world.

Chamonix – Mont Blanc : The Most Famous Ski Destination In Europe.

Mont Blanc – The White Mountain

One of nature’s most spectacular sights, Mont-Blanc is the highest peak of the Alps. Mont Blanc reaches an altitude of 4,810 meters, so high that it is always covered in snow-explaining why it’s called the “White Mountain.”

There is so much to do and to see in Chamonix – Mont Blanc that even though I visited Chamonix in 2019, I only saw half of it.

The Tramway du Mont Blanc offers a classic Chamonix experience, ideal for visitors who simply want to admire the scenery. Tourists can admire the scenery of pastures and forests as the tramway ascends to Bellevue at 1,900 meters. At Bellevue, tourists may take a scenic walk around the verdant pastures of Les Houches. True to its name, Bellevue offers exceptional views, and it also has an elegant mountain restaurant with good food and a pleasant ambience. By the way, you also get a view of Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) from Tramway du Mont Blanc.
Besides skiing, Chamonix is a great place for hiking, rock climbing, paragliding, golf and tennis, or just relaxing. Breathe in the alpine air, soak up the inspiring scenery, and listen to the sound of rushing streams. Discover the delightful, rustic atmosphere of cozy chalet restaurants. Savor delicious meals of authentic Savoy cuisine – hearty country cooking based on potatoes, cheese, and charcuterie. Specialties like fondue and raclette are satisfying after a long day on the slopes or hiking in the mountains.

Saint Malo and Dinard : The Highest Tides In Europe

Saint Malo – The city of the “corsairs” (Pirates), a coastal capital and the jewel of the Emerald Coast, Saint-Malo has always been the scene of great adventures throughout its long history.
Boasting a superb location in Brittany, on the border with Normandy and just a stone’s throw from Mont Saint-Michel, Saint-Malo is also the gateway to the Channel Islands and the south coast of England.

If sandy beaches are your thing, then you’ve come to the right place. Provided that the weather is good (it’s worth noting that it rains quite a bit in this part of France- there’s a reason those rolling hills are so green!), then spending the day exploring the golden beaches of Saint-Malo is an absolute must. In 2018, Saint Malo was named the nicest beach in France. Vive la bretagne vive les bretons! I just love this region of France.

Saint Malo trip 2019
The nicest beach of France and the highest tides in Europe.

Golfe Du Morbihan – Home To 42 Islands

Top view of Golfe du Morbihan

The Gulf of Morbihan is home to 42 islands, Île aux Moines being the most well-known. To visit Morbihan is to discover another Brittany. Each Breton department is unique, I am always surprised by the diversity of the landscapes and characters of the region. Happiness for travelers, an endless source of joy. Morbihan has a multitude of places of interest, it is a destination that is sometimes gentle, sometimes tumultuous, with its coasts, its famous gulf, its islands, but also its towns and inland areas too often forgotten.

Île-aux-Moines is located in the Gulf of Morbihan. In 5 minutes of crossing, you will feel… elsewhere! It measures 7 kms long and its shape is that of a cross. The “Pearl of the Gulf”, as it is nicknamed, exerts its charm as soon as you step down from the pier. Stroll on the trails where you can admire the natural sites of the island or just dive into The Atlantic Ocean.

Impossible to spend a holiday in Morbihan without a historical break. If Stonehenge is undoubtedly the most famous, Carnac is the most concentrated megalithic sanctuary in the world! So, during your stay in Morbihan, do discover the alignments of Carnac.

Carnac : The megalithic site of Carnac is, in fact, made up of several very different alignments. Protected as national monuments, the dolmens and Menhirs of Carnac form the largest group of this type.

St Tropez : The go-to destination for celebs

The very idea of Saint-Tropez is enough to make you dream. For many travelers, the dazzling city of St Tropez is synonymous with celebrities, glamour, exclusive clubs, yachts, etc. The city simply has it all. The city is still a go-to destination for celebrities and lovers of the sea, sand, history, art, and French heritage. Just like Brigitte Bardot, Pablo Picasso, Alain Delon, and countless other famous figures, discover the enchantments of this port city. Compared with other cities on the Cote d’Azur like Nice and Marseille, St Tropez is small but is located inside the shoreline. As such, it is a secluded destination any summer tourist will want to visit.

The city is famous for its beaches and it has a lot of them. The most well-known and loved is Pampelonne. In the 1950s, an unknown Brigitte Bardot arrived to film a movie with her then-husband, Roger Vadim. The film wasn’t a commercial or critical success but it brought her and the town to prominence and forever became associated with cool, arty, independent and hedonistic living. People also love Tahiti Beach (where clothing is “optional”) or Nikki beach (all in the same bay). I am still going to try Naturism in Cap D’agde, well that’s another story I’ll write as soon as I experience it.

Let yourself be swept off by a taste of Provence, as you walk amidst the Provençal market, with its cuisine, and local specialities, which are the pride of the village.28 Dec 2009 — Boats in marina at twilight, St.-Tropez, France — Image by © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

Disinter Deep Down Your Damn Dream!

Note: I was writing the caption to the image below when I jotted down all these words and I am aware that this post doesn’t have to do anything with the purpose of this blog page but I hope you’ll find it useful.

You’re not meant to pursue what people want you to. You must know what is it that will give you immense joy if you do it or deep remorse if you don’t. After all, it’s gonna be you who couldn’t achieve it or you who did achieve it, so don’t let other people influence your future.

At times, I feel, people are afraid to dream big, they are afraid to take risks and are not willing to disinter their personal calling. They’re settled with the bearable suffering they’re going through because it’s hardly noticeable but trust me, the day is approaching when you’ll be resentful and it will already be late. This post hasn’t been written to discourage you, on the other hand, it is being written to help you give another perspective. The perspective of time. Time is valuable and It is inevitable.

Improvement comes from failures and failures are seen by those who try to do things beyond their capabilities, who are willing to follow their personal calling. There are going to be obstacles, defeats and moments, where you may want to step back but that’s gonna be your biggest mistake because sometimes, people quit just before they’re about to reach their goal. Hold on a little longer, you’re going to get through this and assure you about it by reading more.

The philosophy of the Wild Lake

Imagine yourself standing near a wild lake, it may have crocs in it, but across the lake, you have the most valuable thing. Most of us want to cross the lake but at the same time, we’re afraid of crocs, those who are not even willing to pass the lake are people who don’t have the impetus to achieve anything, they don’t know the value of the precious whatchamacallit across the river and never disinterred their own dream, or probably don’t have one.

However, people who are anxious to reach to the other end of the lake, They are those who know what they want in their life and they know what will make them happy, but they’re afraid that they won’t be able to get there. They’re not willing to stake their comfort as they’re worried about the obstacles they will have to encounter to get to the other side. In short, they are settled with whatsoever they have or they can easily attain.

I truly appreciate those who are passionate about their dream, so they have already plunged into the lake. They have the courage to follow their passion, however life isn’t easy and it doesn’t play fair to everyone. Failures and defeats on the way to chase our dreams make us drop it even though we are already in the lake and we end up taking some other road to comfort ourselves. I know people who keep an alternative from the beginning so they won’t lose everything. To be honest, keeping an alternative for a dream already made us sceptical about it. Moreover, by doing this, we are gonna put our energy and time at two different tasks which will hinder us to get to our goals. Think about it.

We can always make an excuse that “It’s okay, I don’t want it that bad” but that’s not true for people already in the lake. They had the courage to chase their personal calling and some obstacles and failures shouldn’t let our dreams fade away. It’s never going to be easy. If it were easy, would there be any success speech? I bet there will be one if you accomplish your goal.

Finally, “The worst situation”, people who have suffered every obstacle and failures and are few steps away from the shore but they don’t know it yet. They feel worn out of every suffering they have been through and they want to quit. They have experienced a lot and it is going to help them in their life anyway, but is quitting a right option? We should understand why people quit after trying so hard but those who never quit, they become the paragon of their field. Giving up is not an option once you have plunged into the lake of success because only those reach the shore who never quit.

Back to, Why are we afraid to dream big? We have always been told that “everything is possible” and we also read the quotes like, the word “Impossible” itself means “I M Possible” but there is a paradox that whenever you ask someone about their opinion on your creative idea, they are going to tell you “It seems hard” or “it’s not even possible” and you become sceptical about your wonderful idea. Don’t let other people judge your capabilities, just because they are not capable of doing it, it doesn’t mean you can’t either.
There’s a quote by Gandhi,
First they will ignore you
Then they will laugh at you
Then they will flight you
And then you will win.

Winning may not be easy but it is possible for people who are determined to reach their goal. Once you become the cadillac, the same people are going to follow your footsteps.

I have seen multiple times that when I tell people about my dream, they say “it’s not possible to…” or they question me on my capabilities and one of them is none other than my father. He is at the stage of laughing (remember ignore you, laugh at you… – Gandhi), but then it has to be only one person to believe in your dream – YOU.

If you believe that you can achieve it then you undoubtedly can.
You just need to dive into the lake, get through all the obstacles, fears, failures and right there, you will find your most valuable treasure. Just keep it in mind while questing and conquering your dream, success is a time taking process and it doesn’t happen overnight. You must keep working hard for it bearing all the pains because ;

“Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away our soul, until one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives”.

The Alchemist

Naturism & Nudism in France

ATTENTION
THIS IS A READING OPTIONAL ARTICLE.
BEYOND THIS POINT, YOU MAY ENCOUNTER BIZARRE INFORMATIONS.

“Not all classrooms have four walls.”

It is quite true and I too, have been learning a lot while travelling last year. It is then, I came across with these two new terms “Naturism” and “Nudism”.

What is Naturism and Nudism?

It is a way of life involving a collective practice of nudism and based on the idea of returning to the natural state. It is an ethic, a philosophy of life that aims for the well being of the naked body in contact with the natural elements that surround us such as air, sun and water.

It is believed that these two terms are interchangeable but in fact it is not completely.

Naturism, a word that already has Nature in it, therefore it is a way of life in peace with nature by practicing communal nudity to encourage self-respect, respect for others and for the environment. Furthermore, the health benefits make it more plausible for people around the globe to practice it.

Nudism, on the other hand, is practiced by nudists and they are generally considered less spiritual and they just enjoy being naked. Moreover, there are health benefits of being in the raw.

I started to dig more about those terms and found out many things such as, Naturism or Nudism is very much present in Europe. It is practiced privately as well as publicly, there are places reserved in the woods, beaches … that allows optional or mandatory clothing.

How did I get to know?

Well, I was planning my travel journey and I started to look for a few options to stay for free with locals in France. I posted about my interest to know the culture and people while travelling on a website and the first person who responded on the site was a Nudist from Lyon. He asked me that he will let me stay but only if I am comfortable in practice Nudism with him and one of his friend. Now, my dear Indian people, you already have an idea that what could have been my reaction. I knew squat about Naturism and an offer like that, of course I declined it. But then after reading more about it and talking to a few friends, now I would love to practice naturism given that, it should be an open place like there are some beaches in France that you will read about in a minute.

I was new to this idea so I turned it down and didn’t do it then. However, I would also like to state that it is not always the case that if it sounds bad just because it is new to us, then it is bad. People are very open about such things in Europe and that I got to know after I discussed about it to my friend in France.

I was in Lille (Northern France) staying at Greg’s (an awesome host in Lille) and I talked to him about what I encountered while looking for a host. He narrated his own experience. He was going to Amsterdam for Christmas celebration with an Indian friend and he was not aware that his friend found a free place for them in Amsterdam on the same website but the welcoming person was a Naturist and the Indian guy agreed as well to stay naked. They arrived at the host’s place and a few moments later, he got naked and Greg found out about all of this, If I remember correctly I guess that Indian guy didn’t really understand the concept at the time of confirming his stay. Well eventually, they all enjoyed being naked, though the Indian guy did take some time but Greg was cool.

Now, let’s read about a few places available in France to practice Naturism.

Bois de Vincennes, Paris

No, no, you’ve read correctly! There is an area reserved in Paris that allows you to walk around naked. I remember when Bruno (A parisian friend) told me about Naturist’s place in Paris, It was quite surprising for me too though I already knew about one that is in Berlin. However, you can roam around that place in clothes as well as nudity is optional in Bois de Vincennes.

Late 2016, the Paris Council voted for a naturist area entirely free and located at the Bois de Vincennes, but the initiative we thought postponed until spring 2018 has finally been launched on August 31, 2017. Paris very first naturist area is an official thing.

Try not to act like Ross while at a Naturist place.

Cap d’Adge (Naturist’s Village)

Cap d’Agde ranks first among naturist destinations in France. This village offers a wide variety of services and facilities: accommodation, marina, restaurants, shops and shopping centers, banks, medical services … For holiday lovers in harmony with nature, the village of Cap d’Agde has inspired the naturist spirit, promoting respect for oneself and others in a preserved environment. Nudity in Cap d’Adge is not Mandatory but it is quite famous naturist’s destination therefore you might see a lot of people roaming around or shopping naked in the shops. It’s a Naturist’s Village and not just a Beach.

Plage de Tahiti, St. Tropez, France

Popular among the celebs, the beaches of St. Tropez are famous for pioneering the topless sunbathing craze of the ’60s. Plage de Tahiti is no exception to this.

Stars frequent visit this favorite hotspot and enjoy the beautiful sands. Who knows, you may spot someone famous skinny-dipping here.

If you are a naturist who prefers to go clothing optional only among classy crowds this is the best nude beach for your taste.

By the way, this whole topic also reminded me of something in India that I would like to add in spite of the fact that it may not completely correspond to the above article.

Naked Saints in India

The Naga Babas (Naked saints), literally meaning ‘Naked Yogis’, are a part of the Shaivite saints. Naga Saints live a life of anonymity. They do not interact with the general public and live in caves, forests and deep inside the jungles. They usually visit the civilization during the “mahakumbh” festival in india to take part in the holy dip.

One thing you must not do at a Naturist’s place; Being ashamed of your body

Going to a nude beach is supposed to be liberating. It’s not about perfection. If you’re going to spend the whole day squirming, it’s not for you.

P.s : Soon I’ll add a video on – What Indians think about Naturism and Nudism.

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