No Pain, No Gain

We decided that we wouldn’t plan our travel till we had our visas in hand. Our travel agent called us on 5th October to confirm that we’d got our Schengen visas, and we immediately started looking up flight tickets. I basically looked at flying out of every possible Indian city and into every possible European city – and by the end of the day, I was tearing my hair out! But all that hard work paid off when I chanced upon an excellent deal: outgoing from Chennai to Paris, and return from Rome to Kuala Lumpur on Etihad Airways for INR 34000! It was saving us atleast INR 20000 per head compared to the next best option (which would involve Chennai – Paris – Chennai tickets + Rome – Paris tickets + one night stay in Chennai + Chennai – KL tickets. Phew! But now you know why I should be your go to person for travel planning). So I did the happy dance, and booked the tickets for 15th October, and we had barely nine days to go before take off!

The next week was a blur of daytime activity and sleepless nights. The very next day I ran around getting our tickets and other documents together to apply for our Malaysia visa. And then booking accommodation for our first week in Paris, figuring out a rough itinerary, writing to/calling the embassies of the non EU countries to confirm that we could enter the country with a Schengen visa (I REALLY didn’t want to end up spending time in a communist era jail for entering or passing the country illegally).

In the middle of all this, I traveled from Vizag to Hyderabad, met up with family and friends, went clubbing, spent two days celebrating Gautam and Sarikas (Nikes brother and his wife) first wedding anniversary, fell ill, bought new contact lens, and got a haircut!

Sunday finally arrived – and Nike fell sick! What a start! He slept the whole day while I packed and took about a billion printouts. Gautam and Sarika dropped us off at the Hyderabad airport. In line with my idea of budget travel, I wanted to take the train from Hyderabad to Chennai, but the timings were very inconvenient, and Nike insisted we fly – a decision I was later grateful for, considering the long journey we had ahead of us!

Dinner at the airport and a short flight later, we were in Chennai by 10.30pm. Our flight was at 5am but they wouldn’t let us into the international departure terminal just yet. Thankfully, there was a Zara Tapas Bar right outside and we whiled away a few hours there before finally entering the terminal.

I always end up spending hours and hours at old, crappy airports, while I never have enough time in the swanky new airports. For example, I spent many, many hours waiting at the Kolkata airport (which is in appalling condition) while I’ve never had time to try the buffet breakfast or the bookstore sale at the Delhi airport – even though I fly through Delhi airport all the time. Just my luck! And in keeping with that trend, here I was, stuck in Chennai airport, with no wifi, and no decent restaurants, bookstores or shops.

Anyway, we finally checked in, and then Nike realised that he’d left his tripod at the domestic terminal – in fact, he’d never bothered to pick it up from the baggage carousel (and this will be a recurring theme in our travels). After scrambling around, we finally retrieved it, and completed check in and security check formalities. I’m always hoping when checking in to an international flight that they’d miraculously upgrade me to business class, but no such miracle happened this time (or any other time, for that matter). Instead, our flight was delayed by over an hour so we waited in the boarding area for about two hours (cue for another rant on appalling airport conditions) before we could board and we finally finally finally took off.

Erm. This was supposed to be just a paragraph but has become a post in itself (I really MUST learn to write crisply) so I’m going to end here for today.

Meanwhile, what’s the worst airport you guys have ever been to or had to wait in?

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12 Responses to No Pain, No Gain

  1. indrani says:

    Please empty all your thoughts and not be worries about crispness & brevity….. !! That is what blogs are meant to be.. Good post this…. Keep them coming…!! Meanwhile i hope you are having a good time..!

    • Thank you! As it is, I write every little detail and now you’re encouraging me more 😀

      But I’m having a fabulous time! Today we visited a little monastery in a Bulgarian village, and then decided to hike back to town. We got lost instead, and ended up at what is possible the worlds largest graveyard (I mean, two hills were entirely covered in graves!). It was insane!

  2. Udaya Bhaskaram says:

    Airports give me stomach flu:( just the thought of squeezing into a cramped space for 8-9 hrs….arghhh…..and of course if it’s an International flight I’m there some 96 hrs before the departure time which is, death by boredom. ‘cus check in (the airline guys wouldn’t give me the boarding pass as they couldn’t fathom why I was traveling to Paris alone) + immigration (dirty, suspicious looks given by the constipated immigration officials at T3, in grey safari suits to single female travellers)+ currency exchange+ an absolutely urgent trip to the loo to relieve yourself of all the stress induced by the above mentioned procedures takes, less than 2 hrs. so you are left with another 94 hrs during which you can browse book stores for the Lonely Planet’s guide to Lonely women travelers OR/AND eat a sandwich for 600 bucks, call mom to tell her ‘wish you were here’ just out of boredom, update your fb status & announce to friends & foe your exotic holiday, doze-off in those extremely uncomfortable metal chairs!!

  3. hAAthi says:

    So glad you’ve moved here. Now I can subscribe and keep track in peace. You silly blogspot url just wont frikkin add itself to my reader!

    Meanwhile, this is SUPER exciting..I want no brevity. I want all the gory inane details. I am a traveller at heart, trapped by circumstances and, well..LIFE. So I will live vicariously through you.

    I went to europe all alone when I was 19, and have been nagging the husband to go back. I think he will love it, and its been on our agenda for the last 2 years, but we just havent coughed up the money, found the time together or prioritized it enough. Same story with leh. BAH!

    Tell me all!

    • My god, word press is so much better! For now, I’m going to stick to the travel posts, but will eventually completely shut down the blogspot blog and move here!

      Hehe…you asked for the gory inane details…and you’re going to get it! 😀

      And dude…you guys HAVE to go…either to Europe or to Ladakh. Europe will require money though, so you guys will have to save up. No way we could have afforded it if we didnt have the tuition fee fund. And I will mail you all about THAT sob story one of these days.

      But Ladakh…really, just block two weeks of your calendar for mid next year and GO. It is fabulous. And not expensive at all

  4. Rashmi Dalvi says:

    KL’s LCCT – Worst.Airport.Ever.

    • Ohmygod!!! I HATE HATE HATE KL LCCT. Its worse than the Cal airport. Really. I encouraged my parents to book Air Asia to travel to Malaysia, and even though I have warned them about the airport, I’m dreading the hassle they will have to go through.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ouch you poor thing! I really hope your trip gets way better moving forward! I cannot recall a terrible airport incident, which is not to say it never happened. I’ve probably just buried the memory deep within!
    Write as long as you want! It’s fun to read!

    • Hey! That was just a terrible start to the trip. And then it got much worse (all about it in the next post). But after the awful beginning, it’s gotten better and better and we have been having an absolutely fabulous time so far.
      And I should really learn the trick of forgetting terrible airport experiences, rather than ruminating over them and writing entire posts about them:D

  6. Pramodh says:

    Which non-schengen country are you planning to head to? Some countries like Croatia are not yet a part of schengen but they stamp your passport in the transit itself without much fuss 🙂 By the way, Croatia has got the most beautiful natural water park – Plitvice lake park.

    • So here are the list of non-Schengen countries we have covered in this trip, using the Schengen visa: Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia. In Turkey, we got a visa on arrival because we had the Schengen visa. 🙂

      We arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia, today evening and will be spending the next one week in Croatia. We will be heading to Plitvice in a couple of days. Have heard a lot about it, and am looking forward to it

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