Businessman J.P. Singh, 49, and his interior designer wife, Sangeeta, travelled to Europe in May with their children, Saloni, 21, and Hitesh, 18. The couple was familiar with several cities on the itinerary, but there’s nothing quite like revisiting old favourites with grown-up children, they say
How did the holiday happen?
J.P. Singh (left) with Sangeeta, Saloni and Hitesh in Paris
Well, we’d been toying with the idea of going back to Europe after our son’s entrance exams, and had drawn up a wish list of the places we wanted to visit for a family holiday. But as they spilled over so many countries, we didn’t want to go into logistical hassles of visas, etc. That’s why, when we spotted a MakeMyTrip ad listing many of the places we wanted to visit on their ‘European Surprise’ package, we decided to sign up.
Do you like package tours?
This was our first experience of such a tour, and I must say it was well-organized and hassle free. But we had a bad start—we realized at the last moment that we had to pay our airfares from Bangalore to Mumbai over and above the package costs, although the ad had said it was included in the overall price. But, from the moment we left Mumbai, it was smooth sailing. We could really see things and enjoy ourselves without worrying about tickets, hotels and food.
Six countries plus Dubai in 12 days—isn’t that exhausting?
Not really. Many of the journeys between countries and cities were done by road, which has its own pleasures, since the countryside is beautiful.
But in Italy, you only saw Venice. Was that enough?
London’s Trafalgar Square
For us, yes. We saw the Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace and the old prisons next to it, which are connected by a bridge with two small barred windows. Apparently, prisoners had their last look of Venice through these windows before being taken to the jail, and that’s why it’s called the Bridge of Sighs. In the Piazza San Marco, we saw the giant bronze Moors striking the hour in the Torre dell’Orologio; it has been doing so since 1499, except for a few years in between, when the clock tower was closed for restoration. And, of course, we visited a Murano glass factory and went for a ride on a gondola—my wife had wanted to do that ever since she saw The Great Gambler!
Next stop, Innsbruck, Austria?
Right. We did a road trip to Innsbruck and a walking tour of the Old Town and saw the Goldenes Dachl, a balcony roof laid out with 2,600 gold-plated copper tiles. We also visited the Swarovski museum at Wattens, glittering with crystals of various colours and shapes.
And then Switzerland?
Not really, because we stopped at Liechtenstein, the fourth smallest European country, on the way. We went on a 20-minute toy train ride to get a feel of the place, passing by vineyards, castles and olive trees. Surprisingly, the European driver spoke a few words of Hindi! From there, we went on to Switzerland.
Mt Titlis, I suppose?
Yes! That was definitely a highlight of the trip: We climbed up 10,000ft in 45 minutes, ending up in the Rotair, the world’s first revolving cable car—an unforgettable experience. We began with lush green meadows and scenic lakes, and then as we rose higher, the scenery changed to snow-clad mountains. We took the Ice Flyer chairlift across Mt Titlis and even had a delicious Indian meal right there!
And there was still Paris and London left…
In Paris, we were spellbound by the architecture, and then by the view of the city from the third level of the Eiffel Tower. After taking in the usual sights—Alexander III Bridge, Arc de Triomphe, Concorde Square, the Paris Opera House, Les Invalides and Champs-Elysee—we also did a Paris-by-night trip, which ended with a revue at the Lido. The next day, we went on a cruise down the Seine, and, in the evening, we took the Eurostar for the 3-hour journey below the English Channel to London. We did a comprehensive city tour, covering Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, House of Parliament, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, as well as Madam Tussaud’s wax museum.
Looking back, do you wish you had skipped some place and visited another?
No, the trip was well planned. I just wish we could have included Jungfrauhoch in Switzerland, and Disneyland in Paris in the itinerary.
Fly to Venice with Emirates with a stopover at Dubai. Economy return fares start at around Rs35,000 (ex-Bangalore), Rs37,000 (ex-Delhi) and Rs40,000 (ex-Mumbai)
As told to Sumana Mukherjee. Share your last holiday with us at email@example.com