Pravin Gandhi’s Travels – Footloose in Europe
Last Diwali, while executing an ultimatum from the wife to get rid of my “junk”, I found two sepia-toned, almost tattered sheets of neatly type-written itenerary of my travel through Europe as a vagabond. Before I lost it forever, I thought I should consign it for posterity digitally.
My journey had started from JFK in New York, where my good friends saw me off and I bid goodbye to them and to USA and to the good and tough times I had in that country, not knowing if and when I
would return. I had the cheapest chance ticket. I stayed awake, guarding my bag till the call at 3 am for chance ticket holders and I was on the TWA to London enroute to home. Little did I know that I would be on the road for 90 days before I reached home to my anxious family which were considering initiating missing-person proceedings.
I’m sittin’ in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination …
– Simon and Gurfunkel
I spent 4-5 days in London. Got used to travelling on bus and tube, B&B, and pub meals, and to use the Europe on $20 a day book that I purchased in London. This book would prove to be my most valuable companion for the next 90 days, for finding places of interest and places to stay and eat.
Armed with a camera, an apple, my Georgia Tech id card, a Eurail pass, and a ticket from Cairo to Mumbai, all in a camera bag which I kept along with me all the time, clinging to it even in the bunk of a youth hostel, I traversed Europe, hopped to Egypt, and reached home via Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The sheets show the itenarary from the day that I took the train from London to Dover, then the ferry across the English Channel and arriving at Calais. In the next 90 days I would go through 12 countries, from blanket-snow covered Narvik beyond the Arctic Circle (67degN) to Luxor in the deserts of Egypt. I would have amazing experiences and everlasting memories. I would meet so many young people, now just memories of faces and conversations. Though, 33 years later, I am still in touch with two of them: two South Africans who subsequently married. Gosh, there is a story to every day in the itenarary!
Now I wouldn’t be worried if these pages are torn, lost, or thrown away. In days ahead, I hope to write about some of the places and my experiences on this trip.