Monday, 1 July 2013
A Perfect ‘Road Trip’ Honeymoon
I am married to my best friend. My husband and I both love to travel. For the honeymoon, my husband planned us a road trip. With so much quality time together, I thought this would be the perfect time to throw together an “on the fly” date, so exotic! Planning a road trip, bookings, etc. can be hectic, but my husband spared me of the pain. All I was to do was accompany him! Lovingly, he asked me, “Hey Dharam Patni, we have promised to walk together forever, even legally now. So would you accompany me to a road trip to Europe?” I was stumped! I replied, “I vow to Pati Parmeshwar! This is so sweet of you, Jaan! I had no idea it would be this exciting and Europe? When did you plan all this? My God, seems just so romantic!” What lied ahead was an experience for a lifetime! Honestly, he said the idea was borrowed from the movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. I immediately told him, “Copy Cat!” Well this happens often, we often hurl “copy cat” at each other, since our courtship days and then hug each other! Just one of the koo-chee-koo things that couples share!
It was time to just unwind and take off, leaving the bustling world behind. The feeling of coursing through the road and the breeze caressing your face is something that needs to be experienced to believe in. Europe, the picturesque continent and its countries with their different cultures leave you fascinated anyway. Every place has a history. Europe has played a big role in the western development and western history as many revolutions started in Europe and it is a major player in world events. Things like the industrial revolution and renaissance began in Europe, the car was invented in Europe some 125 years ago, it's where the Greeks gave us democracy and the Romans started connecting the trade routes, it's where imperialism started and it's why North America was discovered. Through our journey we saw many sites- from the birthplace of the car to the most historic ancient castles and even check point Charlie. And thanks to the homework my husband did (his love for History and Geography I tell you, ugh!), I knew the background of all the places when I was there. All means all! He believes that whichever place you visit, you should never be blank about its history. You should have an idea.
So I started packing. It was a week’s trip. A baggie included all of the yummy assorted treats, including chocolates, dry fruits, emergency kits, etc. and the other bag had clothes and other utilities. I then created a fun little countdown, grabbed a long ribbon & some clothespins, & mapped out our trip. I wrote down stopping points on the cards – which we would take off the ribbon as we passed through each location.
We reached San Francisco International Airport, the nearest airport to the location from where our road trip was to begin. Our travel agents had booked us a two seater Ferrari, a gorgeous classic car with style, power and comfort which can connect to all weather and roads conditions. It is reasonably good for a road trip, as long as you have to hop from hotel to hotel along the way. I wondered how much money my husband put into this trip. He took utmost care that everything was top class. On asking him, he said, “Money is not important, you are. I am with you. And you don’t ask me the cost again. Just be with me.” And we hugged.
We decided on maximum three four places a day. We had a week for the big city. Phew, planning was important. So we planned well. The good thing about road trips in Europe is you don’t need to travel considerable distances to experience the feeling of change. You see rugged mountainous glaciers giving way to breathtaking beaches which in turn blend seamlessly into plush green farm lands, all within a course of few hours. Different countries across Europe have signed a declaration called ‘Schengen Agreement’ which dissolves practically all borders between countries and makes it easier to travel through states without much hurdles. Information courtesy if you ask me? My husband!
Europe is essentially a massive peninsula surrounded by the Arctic ocean to the north, Atlantic ocean to the west and three seas to the south- Mediterranean, Caspian and Black. The topography is so unique- the south of Europe is very mountainous and north from the Alps the terrain descends into vast plains. It has always been a hot spot for travelers and tourists. There are about 50 countries that are connected via Europe's massive road network. 50 countries mean a lot of languages- English (proper English), German, French, Spanish, Danish, Italian, Croatian Russian and so many more. Even England is not a safe place anymore- lots of dialects makes Irish different to Scottish and so on. You can't possibly know each and every language, so a good advice is to try to know a few basic words before hand or you can consult your Phone/Tablet’s dictionary that can make your road trip easier. Atleast that’s what worked for us! Whether it's October Fest in Germany, a night in London's newest musical or a trip to the local Italian ice cream stand- a road trip across Europe has so much to offer. The fact that so many countries are connected gives you a chance to explore and taste so many wonderful things across this amazing continent. Even though understanding all the different languages in Europe is hard, paying for gas and hotel in your road trip isn't, because thankfully most of the countries use the same currency- Euro!
Europe has the most challenging roads to drive, and the beautiful scenery along them just makes the drive better- that's why a road trip across Europe is one of the best road trip ideas you could have. You can drive on deserted Austrian lake side road and a few hundred miles later you can be on the German Autobahn, driving legally at 300 kph, really legally. Europe has no shortage of walking paths; indeed its cities and countryside are often best explored on foot too.
California’s coast is a haven for newlyweds with a plethora of romantic cities, gorgeous scenery, and fabulous food. We started our journey in San Francisco where we walked the hilly streets. What followed was some fun exploration and great eats. Then we hopped on the Pacific Coast Highway, which has incredible views, made a pit stop in Napa Valley and toured a few amazing wineries. The coast had some beautiful beaches, we even made a quick visit to Yosemite National Park. Then we reached the glitzy Los Angeles and continued down to San Diego.
Next day was lined up for the coast to coast trips. This gives you the feel that you are in for the honeymoon of a lifetime! Between city skylines and breathtaking landscapes, a trip across the states makes for the ultimate experience to share together as newlyweds. We made sure we had enough time to stop wherever we wanted and we even took detours for fun. We started in the northeast and stopped in Chicago on our way to Seattle and headed for Grand Canyon next.
Just him and I, enjoying the scenic road trip. Seemed so perfect that I never wanted it to end! Such an amazing and relaxing vacation! Lots of open roads, no regrets, no schedule, no destination and lots of good music. We had a lot of fun, talking, laughing, dancing, eating yummy treats, and holding hands. There’s no better way to get to know your new spouse than to spend hours together exploring new places and enjoying your honeymoon on your time. Road trips are not only fun, but they are one-of-a-kind experiences with unexpected stops, new discoveries and extraordinary memories.
Around every turn was something new to discover. Whether it's a vibrant seaside town, the perfect spot to get ice cream, a one-of-a-kind shop, or a beautiful sandy beach, you're bound love it all. All you need to do is hop in the car, turn on your favorite playlist and let the road take you there! My husband had carried a collection of my favorite romantic songs. This fact was unknown to me. It came to me when I realized song after song, all my favorites were being played. So on the Europian roads, we played along all Hindi romantic numbers! Desi style you call it!
New England states are popular during fall months with gorgeous foliage and cool nights perfect for bundling up next to a fire. The routes we could take were endless. In Vermont, we followed Route 125, which starts at Lake Champlain and winds through the quaint town of Middlebury, and continues thereafter as the Robert Frost Memorial Drive complete with a mountain named after the poet and a beautiful trail. Next we had a long drive along the eats coast. It is full of captivating cities and beautiful ocean side resorts. We stopped in Annapolis, MD, and then made a few stops in Virginia (it is ‘for lovers’ after all!). We continued on to North Carolina where we relaxed on the beaches of the Outer Banks and Wrightsville Beach, which is right by riverfront Historic Wilmington.
Next day we had to travel Florida, well known as the Sunshine State. It has an impressive list of locations. In fact, because of its size and how much there is to do and see, Florida can be broken down into many different kinds of road trips. We started in Fort Lauderdale and made our way down towards Key West. Along the way we saw some great destinations, like Miami, and the Florida Keys. Each Key has its own beauty and mix of activities. We chartered a boat and toured the island and even indulged in fishing. On reaching Key West, the southernmost part of the United States, we had dinner. The nightlife here is rocking too.
Though agreed that, road trips are much more fun when you are organized. But one thing that I encourage you not to do is have a formal itinerary put together for your road trip. Life will always throw you a curve ball like a traffic jam, a slow waiter, or an unexpected surprise that you might want to take the time to enjoy-such as a sunset. The better is, when on a road trip, go with the flow. Also, we avoided the large chain restaurants and tasted the local foods. Although, we stopped every two-three hours and took turns in driving, driving plus all day travelling still exerts you. A halt at the hotel and we would indulge and pamper ourselves at the spa. At night, we did star gazing. It is one of the simplest pleasures in life. It would take away all the stress and tiredness. And for my multi-talented husband and his interest in Astronomy, by then, I knew interesting things about stars too!
We had three days left now. Next spot was Cabo de Sao Vincente in Portugal. Nothing can beat the exhilaration of watching the sun set over Atlantic sea as you drive through a winding road past rugged mountains and never ending vast ocean. Such was Portugal! The cliffs, beaches, wilderness make it very special, and it is a nature reserve. Then we drove to Algarve coast. This is a rural experience. As you cruise by in wonder, the surrounding landscape changes from barren land to lush vegetation with a sprinkling of small villages with tiled roofing, meadows and alluring sandy beaches. The next day, we drove to the Coastal road of Brindisi, Italy. It is an experience of driving at sea level, feeling the breeze brush against your face. There is nothing but sea and more sea as you drive by. Last day we drove off to Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria. This road takes you to the highest point above alpine mountain. It is not for the faint hearted drive. Hence, here it was my husband driving! It has numerous twists and turns as it courses by the highest glacier of the country. What really takes your breath away is the awesome scenary you see below as you climb the mountain. For this, it seemed all worth it.
Our trip was about to end. But the best was still left. Two awesome cities- Scotland and Florence. The stretch of Edge of Loch Ness, Scotland is for those who want to be real close to nature. Surrounded by ice caped mountains and plush green fields and sparkling blue lakes. It is the most spectacular drives! Our last spot was Pianoro, Florence. My god, this road is deemed to be truly romantic, romance is in the air here, literally! The countryside is dotted with quaint little villages and wine yards. Nothing but peace and serenity follows this road. Sometimes words are needed, but at times words fail and the serenity of certain places speaks more than words. Our trip organizers drove us off to Florence Airport, Peretola. It was time to be back to aamchi Mumbai. Though I wished the trip never ended, but I didn’t want my husband to turn bankrupt, so we were back with a lot of memories and many stories to tell. We finished all the ribbon strips as we scraped our journey.
The trip has definitely strengthened my marriage and I can’t thank God enough for my spouse. This journey remains to be the most memorable, adventurous and epic one I ever had! In Europe, there are so many beautiful sights and quaint little towns along the way when you venture off the beaten path a bit. Remember to take lots of pictures, and have a great time! What made the journey memorable and special was, I was with HIM, my soul mate, my best friend, my husband, my life!
P.S: This is my entry for the contest "The Perfect Road Trip" organized by IndiBlogger for AmbiPur, India. For more information, check facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia