Notes from Europe, part 1

Tomorrow begins what I consider the third and final leg of my journey across Europe. The trip (or voyage as I prefer to call it — humour me) has been going on more or less as planned, but my grand plan of writing about it regularly here has not: often there is no in-flight Wi-Fi (see below), and a hotel I stayed at had an incredibly slow network, and the fastest I have come across till date, surprisingly enough, was in Lisbon. The first leg of my journey was across Portugal and France, the second leg was in northeastern Germany (Berlin and parts of Macklenburg-West Pommerania), and the final leg will be in southern Germany and Austria.

I sit in my cozy hotel room in north Berlin, about thirty-minutes from the Hauptbanhof, overlooking a quiet little residential street, as I pen this. I have probably travelled the S1 past Gesundbruhnnen and up and down line 150 a hundred times. That is probably an exaggeration but you get the point. The metro goes up and down the street noiselessly several times. The public transport system is robust here in Berlin, but not as punctual as I was led to believe.

Flying budget airlines

It is interesting that the next part of this essay was penned on an hour-long flight to Munich and eventually in the city whose football team I support.

Traveling with Europe, for me, was by two modes: rail and air. On a personal level, I have always wanted to travel Europe by rail, but, while cost-effective, trains are time-consuming for longer distances. Continue reading

Flying to Europe

Today begins my fortnight-long journey across Europe. There were two small — perhaps almost inconsequential — things I have always wanted to do: fly direct to Paris, and fly in an Airbus. As a Francophone, my first wish is understandable. The second was something I fulfilled earlier this year on a trip to Sri Lanka. This time round, it was a business class A330 on an (approximately) ten hour flight to Paris.

Boarding at Bangalore started at the strike of midnight, delayed by ten minutes due to security concerns of some sort. Once the plane took off, two things became clear: first of all, sleeping in planes is hellish; second, the earth is stunning. Cruising at nearly 950 km/h, the 8,000 km–long journey lasted seventeen minutes lesser than planned.

Fluffy clouds beneath.
Fluffy clouds beneath.

CDG is somewhat similar to BIA in more ways than one would want. This could be a one-off experience, and indeed I hope it is, but there are long queues, pointless security checks even for connecting flights, and even Sky Priority passengers like myself waited a good 30min at passport control — only four out of eight border police posts were in operation for some reason — and many missed their flights.

I pen this as I sit at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, waiting a three-hour period as my flight to Lisbon comes in. Having previously been to Germany, it seems to me, at first glance, that the French are friendlier. I would attribute this partly to the rich, multicultural society in France as opposed to the mostly white, Christian population of Germany. Continue reading