Helsinki

I left home in major rush, as usual. I did most of my packing in the 10 minutes before we were meant to leave but I think I’ve got most things!

We left Heathrow in the evening and by 10PM we were in Helsinki, our stop off (to keep flight costs down!) The one issue, we were stuck there for 21 HOURS! I attempted to sleep on a sofa, only to wake dripping with sweat and surrounded by young scouts… a bit odd. I was then woken at 4AM by the cleaner and told to move on… that ended my nights sleep.

The next day we decided to head into the city center than be stuck in the airport all day long. It was 12 euros for an all day travel ticket and i spent the rest of my 20 on lunch. We got a ferry out onto Suomenlinna Island and had a wander and a gander and just laid around drinking duty free Baileys (the hazelnut flavor wasn’t bad) and eating sweaty cheese and ham sandwiches.

We had a nice day just bumming around the city, I got to try my first bit of reindeer (not bad!) and just enjoyed the clean and friendly atmosphere, something we were sure would change as we traveled onwards!

So back to the airport and aboard our flight – India here we come!

Packing!

The nerves have begun, we leave in 5 days time!

Packing is under way and I’ve decided to do something I have been thinking about for a long time – packing light! I was going to take my 65L bag and my 35L as a day bag, leaving the big one in hostels while we’re out exploring, instead I’ve decided to pack everything into the 35L and take an even smaller bag for the days out –  all I’ll need is camera, sun cream and water.

I was looking into what to take to India and I stumbled across this website: http://www.travelindependent.info/whattopack_short.htm which confirmed the thoughts I was having – I can literally take the bare essentials and ease my mind of a lot of stress and worry by not carrying extra “what if…” items. Ill take the minimum necessary and the lack of empty space in my bag will mean I don’t end up carrying around a ton of souvenirs that I don’t really need.

99% of the time ill be bumming around in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops, if I need anything specialist I can buy it out there! Apparently  in India you can buy clothing by the kilogram, although realistically ill end up buying a t-shirt or two to replace old disgusting ones.

Simples!

Research for India!

Now I have been doing a bit of research and reading but I’d got it into my mind that we would keep this trip reasonably open-ended. I have a book, Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (www.vagabonding.net) and the basic summary of the book is this: keep an open mind, don’t plan too much and talk to as many people as possible to ensure the trip as a whole is a great experience rather than a rush from point A to B to C for a photo of this and that.

This is what I basically did for my motorbike trip – I had a rough plan of places I wanted to visit/people I wanted to meet but I made actual decisions on the spot. I could stop for lunch, for the night, go here or that at my own will. It worked out fine, only had issues with closed or full campsites and things like that.

I’d like to keep this same philosophy for this India trip. We land in Delhi at 5.30 AM on 2 August. We want to visit:

  • The Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra, Jaipur
  • Go north to the Ladakh region of India – Leh is the main town
  • South to the region of Goa – we’ll leave this till the end of the trip for the rains to have passed
  • Varanasi

The plan is to train or bus between these places, with maybe an internal flight from Goa to Delhi to get home on time. So we would have a few days in each place, exploring at chatting to other travellers and then book up a train ticket to our next destination.

One worry at the moment is the availability of trains – I thought we could turn up at a station/do it online and reserve our ticket a day or two in advance no problem. After doing some research it seems people book their tickets weeks and months in advance.

I’m now in two minds – to keep the trip open and just go with the flow and whatever we encounter, or to book up some trains now to ensure we’re not stuck somewhere for a week waiting for the next free train but then loosing out on the option to change our plans at the last minute. Hmm……

 

Also I have found a nice blog of a couple who also had 6 weeks in India, they travelled all over by train and the pictures they took are great!

http://indiabytrain.mattaranha.co.uk/