For a very long time, years actually, I’ve dreamt of going to Paris. Strangely, in spite of so many holidays, I’ve never been to Europe. So this year, I decided that Europe it was going to be. And if it had to be Europe it had to be Paris. I was getting some relatively cheap tickets to London, so I thought London – Paris would be a good idea. And then I got greedy, maybe combine one more city..Zurich perhaps and do what a lot of people do…wrap up 3 countries in one go. Till better sense prevailed. Did I really want to do a tick mark holiday? Paris – 3 days – tick. London – 2 days – tick. Zurich – 2 days – tick. No I don’t think so. I wanted to LIVE Paris…so what it was only for 10 days. I wanted to walk around, not hurriedly see the place from the top of an ‘open tour bus’; roam around, soak in the atmosphere and not be bound by time.
So it was decided that I was going to utilize my cheap tickets to get to London and then hop on to Paris from there. Till even better sense prevailed and I decided to speak to an ex- senior colleague and a dear friend who has worked in the travel industry for yeeeeaaaars. After 2 hours of major debate I came away much more informed on how to plan an international holiday. The first to be chopped off my list was London. You see, the tickets were cheap coz, ahem, they were not really confirmed. He was horrified. What if you don’t get seats on the way back? And please calculate the extra visa fees that you’ll have to pay if you’re going to London. Go only to Paris. More securer and relatively cheaper that way. Aah! But also go to South of France. Yes. Nice, Cannes and Monaco should be good. And why don’t you spend one night at Bordeaux? At a villa in the vineyards?
OH MY GOD! I can do that?
You see his whole point was not to go with a list of ‘items to see’. Yes those too. Of course one will see the Eiffel Tower, and of course one has to go to the Notre Dame. But also gather experiences that are unique. Experiences that are different. Brag worthy? I asked him and only got a smile in return.
His other advice, one which I did ignore and sort of repented was to fly in and out of different cities. It’s very simple. Most of us tend to book a round trip. Mumbai – Paris – Mumbai. And in the middle there is travel to Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt perhaps. His advice is not to book a round trip on the cheapest online site available but to visit the sites of some of the major airlines operating internationally out of your city. To quote him
“ Note down all the cities serviced by the top ten popular airlines from your city to the continent of Europe. You will see that in the list for every airline the 80-20 rule applies. i.e 80% of the airlines visit a select 20% of the cities for sure. Typically the list for all major airlines will contain London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, Vienna, Athens, Istanbul… So amongst the countries in your wish list to be visited for this summer if you were to choose one of these cities as an entry point & the other as the exit point you will get the highest efficiency or VFM for your air ticket. Now go look for the cheapest ticket on that route!”
Now that we have spoken enough about how to book tickets for international travel, I will come back and we shall talk about my GLORIOUS 10 day holiday spanning Paris, Nice, Cannes (oh my god – the yachts) and Monaco.