”Travel, in younger sort is part of education, in the elder, a part of experience.”
Travelling is quite common in my family, thanks to my parents. We have travelled most parts of India before making the step up to Europe, one of the finest continents. Actually, this is my second trip to Europe. Each and every nook of this continent is different from others and exploring new countries, new places are extremely challenging— a new experience. Having already seen the majestic Alps, the Black Forest, the canals of Amsterdam and Venice, lush green countrysides of England and France, and the central plains, I knew that I would be in for a treat as my parents have decided to visit East Europe and Scandinavia this time. I love its beautiful weather and geographical location. So my joy knew no bounds. Like the previous trip, we all made out the plan day by day. Actually, it’s a gargantuan job. Managing the days, my parents’ holidays, hotels, train tickets, the places seem a challenge and my parents are quite apt in this matter.
20th May of 2018 suddenly rolled into the calendar. Packing was done. At 8’o clock in the morning, we were ready to go to the Netaji Subhas International Airport. We were accompanied by my maternal grandfather like the previous trip. At the Air India counter, we were given the boarding passes to Delhi and Vienna. I felt happy when I came to know that both of the flights would be operated by the beautiful and efficient modern Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The Delhi bound flight vide registration no. VT-ANB was full. And the aircraft is only 4 years 3 months old. It’s my hobby to find out the registration number of the aircraft and as the flight was operated by 787, it was more enjoyable. AI-021 to Delhi finally pushed back after forty-five minutes. As we taxied and took off, the weather turned beautiful. Anyway, after one hour we were served breakfast and to my depression it was veg. We started our descent after 20-30 minutes. As time passed we got our landing clearance and we landed. The landing was neither good nor bad. It was a long taxi to the gate from the runway. In Delhi, it was 40 degrees Celsius. Pretty hot actually. As we got our boarding passes with the seat numbers at Kolkata, we didn’t have to exit the Delhi airport and enter again. There we waited for some time, clicked some photos, and headed towards the boarding gate.
While heading towards the gate I found out that our boarding gate would be closing and it was the final boarding call. We somehow started running. Finally, we could board the Vienna bound 787-Dreamliner bearing registration number VT-ANA. After boarding, I drank two glasses of water. During the pushback, the Rolls-Royce engine fired up. We finally took off after ten minutes of taxying. I spent the long hours enjoying food, cartoons, and the outside landscape from 40,000 feet. As we began to descend to Vienna, I saw many windmills. In Austria, they do not call it Vienna, they call it Wien. It was a very smooth touch down and the outside was spectacular. The temperature was showing 22 degrees Celsius. We noticed the difference when we deplaned and were on the aerobridge– instead of the heat waves we got in India, there were cool waves. We finally got after custom clearance and took a taxi for a staggering 55Euro! It was a big Mercedes Benz van. The roads were as usual clean and in some areas, there was graffiti on the walls— that’s the second-worst thing I found in Europe after pick-pockets. At last, we reached our hotel Brigetteanau Youth Palace. We got afresh, changed our clothes, and went out to catch tram no 2 to visit St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Though we could see the church from the tram stop, however, it was not so easy to reach there. First, we ended up at the wrong church, and then we have to ask a few locals to reach the correct one. The inside of the huge church was shiny and spectacular with the murals and the lighting. I noticed many horse carriages standing in front of the church. We clicked some photos as usual.
We were feeling hungry and whenever I am hungry in Europe, McDonald’s come as a savior for me. My parents and grandfather had their dinner in a Japanese restaurant. Before we returned, we collected a few bottles of drinking water from nearby stores. It is not easy to get gas-free water there in Europe.
We woke up at 7 am in the morning knowing that we had planned to visit Budapest that day. Budapest is the capital of Hungary. Handelskei station was quite near our hostel. We just crossed the road and walked for five minutes. I again had some snacks at the McDonald’s near the station before catching the S1 train to Wien Hauptbanhop which means Wien Central Station. It seemed very difficult to board the train with all the luggage as the S1 train stopped for 25 seconds only. It was only possible because an Indian man helped us at the gate. At 9:42 sharp in the morning, the train of Austrian Federal Railways (OBB) started to head towards Budapest Keleti. As we had Eurail Global Pass with us, we travelled in business class and no reservation needed. The train started running and Europe started showing its pristine beauty. There were vast green fields, valleys, windmills, beautiful small flowers, and many more. We had to catch the M2 metro from Budapest Keleti to reach Deak Ferenc Ter where our apartment hotel is located. The hotel was inside a market and the place was crowded with many restaurants and souvenir shops.
As we had not much time in our hands, we started as early as possible for local sightseeing. We wanted to visit Buda Castle, the Charles Bridge, the river Danube, the beautiful Parliament of Hungary. So we took bus 16 to Clark Adamter which dropped us crossing the Charles Bridge near the gate of Buda Castle. The Hungarian capital Budapest consists of the hilly district Buda and flat district Pest beside the Danube. They are bisected and connected by the river and the Charles Bridge and many other bridges.
Near the Charles Bridge, we took some beautiful photos of the river, bridge, and mesmerizing white parliament building.
My mom told me that its style is Gothic. To enter the Buda castle, you need to ride a ropeway which is operated on tracks that look like tram tracks. It was interesting. The castle area was big. As I was too exhausted to walk I took some rest with my grandfather under an old green tree. We could get a panoramic view of Pest, the river, the city from the top of Buda castle. The most beautiful part of the castle was Fishermen’s Bastion. Its seven white stone towers represent seven leaders from seven tribes who founded Hungary.
My grandfather could not walk so much so we came back to him and I had had mango flavoured ice cream with fruit pulp. After coming down the Buda castle again we crossed the bridge and walked along the riverside near the Parliament. To my astonishment, we found some iron shoes scattered on the banks of the river. Actually, this is a memorial to honour the Jews who were killed during WWII.
From here we took the public cruise to Margaret Island. It was a holiday in Budapest so we had to pay instead of our 24 hour Budapest cards. It was a 15 minutes boat ride. The island inside the river was lush green and very calm. People were walking, eating, cycling, reading, and reclining on the grass, and so on. A beautiful fountain was dancing in the middle of the park.
As my tired grandfather was sitting on one of the benches to take some rest, we went to find a green ice popsicle. I was very keen to find it but it was not easy. On our way, we found some small restaurants, white flowering plants, large trees, a big signboard depicting the word ‘Budapest’. We came back to the fountain and this time we tried to catch the bus and the tram to reach our hotel. From the island, we boarded a bus which dropped us near the Parliament building and from there we caught a tram to reach Deak Ferenc Ter. It was almost 9’o clock. I decided to have my dinner at KFC and my companions had their dinner at a Thai Restaurant. It was a beautiful and memorable day for me as I visited another capital city in this world. The next day we would again go back to Vienna. So I went to bed early.
(to be contd.)
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