Act 1, Take 1
Me- Circa December 2015 - “I want to go out some place in summer next year, out of India, preferably Europe and more specifically UK. Oh and yes, if possible on my birthday.“
Me – Circa May 6th 2016, I am on my way to – lo and behold, to the land where Thames flows, London.
I was frantically scouring through brochures and websites of travel agencies in Pune to check out if they have London only packages. It was a unanimous opinion that since it is my first time in a really far off, phoren land, it will be better if I go with a tour agency. And so started my research on tour packages to Londres, and how and what all to do there. Unfortunately or fortunately (mostly fortunately), after almost couple of months of reading and browsing through websites of travel agencies in India and in London, I finally gave up. I simply could not find a package which fit into my budget and the duration I was looking for. One of the major reasons was probably the fact that I was going to do a solo trip. So took a decision that I will do it myself. The fact that UK is an English speaking region worked to my advantage. It was one of the facts which gave a boost to my confidence that I will be able to manage this on my own. So that thing was set.
February 2016- I went to a travel agency to get my Visa done. Wow. It was no less than a school summer vacation project, with the number of documents I had to arrange for. It started from a letter from my workplace to my income tax declaration statements and the last thing I did was to get my bank account statements. It took me almost a month or so to get hold of all the documents. The irony was that it took me just 2 days to get the Visa after I submitted the documents in the UK Visa office at Kalyani Nagar! Blimey! That it was an experience is another story. I was ecstatic when I got the visa and more than me, others were confident that since it is a tourist visa, it will be a cake walk.
So the next, the most arduous task on my hand was to zero in on the places I wanted to visit. It was a catch 22 situation because there were miles to go and excruciatingly less time on my hands. Nevertheless, you gotta do it, you gotta do it. So I narrowed down on 5/6 places – not to mention mostly touristy - Windsor Castle, Madame Tussauds’, Lords’ cricket ground London Dungeons and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. I also squeezed in a whole city tour. I also had planned to visit my cousin who helped me with the invite, who is settled in Loughborough, Leicestershire, around 2 hours from London.
March 21, 2016 – Woohoo.. there it was. I had booked myself (finally after lot of deliberation, discussions and internet browsing) on an Emirates flight to London, Heathrow airport, with a layover in Dubai. It took a good few days for me to digest the fact that I am now, booked on an Emirates flight to LONDON - the place, which I had been dreaming of going, since I don’t know when! Immediately after that, I booked my stay in youth hostel, a la Queen, aka Kangana Ranaut, around 30 minutes from central London. The only difference was there was no Sikander in my dorm, as it was female only dorm! So I had Joan of Arcs and Xenas with my Razia Sulatna’ish endeavour in the 4-bed dormitory. Booking my stay in a youth hostel proved to be one of the best decisions I had taken in a while
It was a huge relief for me once these two major things were done (after Visa ofcourse) with respect to my trip. Now making booking for the places to visit was one of the last of the challenges infront of me.