We have all heard the popular saying – ‘Journey is better than the destination!’ and I was lucky enough to experience it but with a little twist in the tale, which in fact turned out to be most memorable journey of my life.
Being a traveler, I love meeting people, making friends on the go and experiencing the local culture – This journey had it all!
I am from India, but for a year I was settled in Nigeria, Africa. I always do proper ground work before heading for any destination and I did the same for my well-planned trip to South of France – French Riviera. I was to fly to Nice via a short halt at Frankfurt on October 6th, 2015. My best friend was already in Paris, so we planned to hang around together in Nice and Monaco. We booked a small apartment and researched some places and things to do. Voilà ! Bags packed and I was all set to go!
All hell broke loose!
Around 12 hours before boarding the flight, I got the news that Nice, Monaco was flooded. I informed my friend about the crisis situation. We spoke for hardly 15 minutes and for some strange reason we were not at all sad but instead super excited! The reason being; now we had almost entire Europe to choose from! We were picking destinations like pancakes. We thought of Germany, Switzerland or Italy but none interested us. After thinking some more and looking through google maps , we zeroed in on Prague. This beautiful city came to our mind for 2 reasons – it was my dream destination and my friend had few friends living there. Perfect! Prague it was!
We had a destination change with just 12 hours at hand!
It was a moment of excitement and nervousness, but we were determined to make it happen.
I started looking for options from Frankfurt to Prague, which was the most important part – commuting and reaching our dream destination. After searching a lot, I could see only one way out – Frankfurt to Nuremberg via train and then Nuremberg to Prague via bus which was to take exactly 24 hours including the flight from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. With lack of a better option,I booked this route.
Now it was time to search for a place to crash. We preferred to book an apartment and with zero knowledge about location, we were perplexed – Plus, it was almost midnight and we were tired. I finally gave up, thinking let’s do it in the morning before leaving for airport. Luckily my husband managed to get a good apartment and we booked it right away.
Next, it was time to leave for the airport. Amidst the chaos, excitement and nervousness, we forgot to check few very important things – currency, info on the city, local transport, language and location.
I was simply clueless except the tickets and a print out of the accommodation and transport! Totally unplanned – and as you know, that’s not how I travel.
After landing at Frankfurt, biggest task was to cancel the connecting flight, get local number and find the fastest way to the train station. Somehow, I managed to cancel the flight but no luck in getting a local number. Through information desk, I quickly found out how to reach the train station which was via metro.
This is where the adventure begins!
I tried buying a ticket at the metro station, but the stupid machine declined my transaction. Suddenly, a local college girl came to my rescue and helped me buy the ticket – That’s when our conversation began. During the metro journey and till my delayed train to Nuremberg arrived, she stayed with me explaining the announcements about my train. We spoke about Germany, India and our love for travel! We exchanged numbers, took photos, added on Facebook and here I made a friend for life!
I boarded the train, but there was more to come! As I dint have a local number, no internet and low battery (You can see it was my lucky day!) I was almost disconnected, but not thinking about anything else, I was enjoying and capturing the beautiful autumn landscapes from the train window.
Nuremberg arrived and I had just 20 minutes to find the bus station. I quickly got off and went on the road, asked random people on the streets – some didn’t bother to answer, some were confused and others didn’t understand English. I was freaking out as I simply could not afford to miss the bus. I gave another try and asked a female riding a bicycle, her first question was ‘Are you an Indian’?, and the conversation began – walking & talking, she took me to a near-by station and enquired about my bus with the authorities. To her and my surprise, this was the wrong stop and I had just 5 minutes left, I panicked and so did she. She quickly took her bicycle and asked me to come running behind her. She rode fast to the bus stop in hopes of catching the bus for me – which was 10 mins away. To my surprise, she made it on time and managed to stop the bus for me.
Thank God, I got the bus!
Later, I found her on Facebook and thanked her for the kind gesture.
So, finally I was on my last leg to reach Prague. Here I got wifi and informed my already panicked husband that I was okay. Then I treated myself to a well deserved nap – afterall, I deserved it after all the running around! I finally reached Prague after a couple of hours, all excited and blank! I somehow managed to get a cab, explained the address of the apartment through actions and a fuzzy printout. I must admit, I was a little scared for those 15 minutes of taxi ride as I literally knew nothing in and around town. Luckily, he was a good driver. Unluckily he wasn’t so good when I realized I didn’t have any local currency and didn’t even know the correct conversation rate. Of course, he cheated me by charging more , nevertheless I was happy to reach at last and quickly retired to my room.
With one percent battery in my phone, my first thought was to plug it in. Another realization struck – I wasn’t carrying an international converter. I used my already tired brain to think of a way out and utilized the TV USB socket to keep my phone alive. Using wifi, I messaged my friend to get currency, charger and a map from the Prague airport. And finally, I informed my husband that I reached safely with all the unforgettable experiences in past 24 hours!
My friend reached in an hour, and so our unplanned unknown excited trip to witness beautiful Prague was about to begin!
We went around using maps and talking to the locals, enjoyed the beautiful autumn colours, vibrant culture and freezing temperatures. On the last night, along with her Czech friends, we witnessed the energetic nightlife of Prague and once again I made more awesome friends for life.
Indeed my ‘Journey was much more exciting than the destination’. Unforgettable, memories forever.