This is My entry to the Travelstart Blogger Experience Competition.
I suffer from something called Wanderlust. Or Fernweh if you’d like.
You know, that desire to travel far and wide and discover new lands, speak to people you haven’t spoken to before, eat foods you’ve only dreamt of eating?
Well, I did that in February of 2015. Packed my bags and headed to Europe for a work conference but with an planned itinerary spanning 5 countries in the Schengen region.
First stop – Geneva, Switzerland. It was cold. I didn’t have much money so hotels were definitely not an option especially in on of the World’s most expensive capitals. I opted to CouchSurf instead and this was an excellently rewarding experience. I stayed with Marcello & Patricia; 2 Brazilian nationals living right in the heart of Geneva. I spent most of my 3 day stay feeding ducks at Lake Geneva and cycling in a rented bike at the Jardin Anglais staring at the status and at people.
Evenings at this park have the most eye-catching sunsets even in Winter. Spectacular – that’s what is was.
I also visited the Handicap International ‘Broken Chair’ just outside the UN HQ and participated in learning its rich history.
After my conference, I linked up with a couple of friends I met via email thanks to a Kenyan friend of mine Mark Kaigwa (God bless you buddy!) and we drove the almost 300 KMS to Zurich. There, I had the chance to see some amazings sights like Lake Zurich, and to eat specially made Swiss home made chocolate cake courtesy of my host’s sister which she’d made for his birthday. I can still taste the chocolate melting in my mouth.
Spent 2 days in Zurich then decided to head to Rome. Bought an early morning SBB train ticket with a change over in Milan. The train tracks tear through the southern part of Switzerland and right beside the Swiss Alps. Another amazing sight. The snow capped mountain ranges looked ripe for skiing and I’d occasionally catch a glimpe of the sun over the white peaks as the train wound itself round the mountains.
Plenty of drama smack in the middle of the journey as fallen trees rendered the train tracks impassable. We had to catch a bus halfway to Milan and true to Murphy’s law; we inevitably missed the connecting train to Rome. There I was – A stranger with a huge backpack but with a formidable will to conquer anything that fate would have thrown my way. I finally managed to get to Rome at midnight (our initial ETA was 2PM) only to find my host had already gone home. Navigating the metro at night was scary but because I’d printed out directions to Allejandro’s house, I got there just past 2AM. Weary and hungry, I turned in and set myself to wake up early the next day to do some sightseeing.
Early on Saturday morning, my Indian housemate and I (we shared a 2 bed-roomed house we found on Airbnb) made breakfast and I began my tour.
I’d heard so much about the Colosseum. I’d done a lot of research about it too and even asked an Italian guy who I knew owned a restaurant in my office building everything I could about the historical masterpiece. No words could come close to describing the feeling I got when I first lay my eyes on her; el Colosseo Roma.
She really is a masterpiece. Turns out I also went there when it wasn’t too cold despite it being mid-Winter as the sun was partly out. An amazing time that truly was.
Next to it stands the Arco di Constantino (Arch of Constantine); a massive marble pillar arch that acted as the city gate where Ancient Roman Emperors would victoriously trod on their horses back to Rome after winning in various battles.
Together with a small groups of tourists on tour-guided visits of this architectural works of art (OK, I really didn’t pay for the tour guides but stood at arm’s length instead & pretended to mind my business as they explained everything. In my defence, their fee was high & I was on a tight budget).
What I found particularly exciting was the Roman Pantheon; a building built well before Jesus Christ lived (27BC – 126AD). It has obviously been retouched a number of times to preserve it but it is still magnificent.
End of Part One. Stay Tuned for Part 2.