Travel around Europe; exhilarating not expensive

Escapade Lite’s travel idea is neither that of a backpacking trip, nor a couch surfing adventure. For us, it is your trip of a lifetime very much in your budget and with the ease of the connections and money saving hacks we will tell you.

Different from already set travel tours, with people stuffed up in buses on routes so long, where you don’t feel your bum anymore by the time you reach your destination, Escapade Lite gives you a sense of  ownership of your time and dream places to be at.

When you are there, you have barely 20-30 mins to take some hurried pictures with a desire in your heart “What if I had more time” here? I wish I could see some more, BUT you are off to a new European city to not appreciate its beauty and experience in less than a few hours, by not giving it its due time. Don’t you think it is less than honest and fair to ask you to see Rome, Naples and Capri, all in one day? Yes people do that.I mean honestly, what would you really see? 😀

I can understand the need to see as much as possible in a short time, as holiday getaways are not frequent and need time and money both, to spare. But since it is not the case always, your time and money should be well spent and should not cause you to dwell on “What if’s” and “may be’s”.

Similarly, I would not want anyone to pay a sh*t load of money and still having to decipher the complexities of local travel connections or having to spend another small fortune on taxis, to make it to the train and bus departures in time. Escapade Lite really busts the very idea of Europe being a very expensive and unaffordable place, about which the common concept is that either its seen by backpacking and staying in hostels or in super chic 5 star hotels or luxury vacation homes and there isn’t anything in between. I was once talking to my Greek staff member at my company who told me that she has not been to Greece in years as it is very expensive to go to Europe and specially sightseeing so she has not been around. It filled me with such sadness because I, not even being European myself, know that it isn’t true. It is very much possible to see it without breaking one’s bank , booking expensive tour packages or breaking one’s back by carrying a backpack all over and sleeping on bunk beds in dorms of a hostel. Not that anything is wrong with either of the options, but the fact of the matter is, these are not the only two ways to explore and enjoy the beauty of the continent.

Getting Around in Europe:

European trains are great experiences of comfort, class and affordability so why not use them, instead of having to wait on airport check ins and lengthy immigration processes etc. When you come from a faraway land and are new to European travel, with the language barrier and completely new surroundings, it can get quite intimidating to figure out the connections as well. I wanted to make it easy on everyone and when I made itineraries for some friends and enabled them to execute those itineraries flawlessly, suggestions started pouring in to take the passion to travel as well as the sincerity and longing to make others experience this passion, by making it a business idea. Hence the birth of “Escapade Lite”.

Trains from Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Budapest, Venice, Milan can take you to most famous cities of Europe connected by land, without having to go through the hassle of boarding flights and going through security checks at the airports. Non-land routes are of course connected through low-cost flights and are very convenient. Most European destinations can be reached within a travel span of 1-2 hours through easy inter-European connections with sometimes prices so nominal that it is not possible to even have a decent meal at that much price in North America.

Inside view of Italo Treno; better than many airlines, right?

Italo Treno at Napoli Centrale Station

Buses are great options too. Longer travel but very comfortable and reliable for those who find trains to be intimidating or slightly out of budget. Ride sharing is a great option too where you can meet local people from all walks of life and have great conversations, hence experiencing European lives and people up close.

So whoever said that touring Europe needed a fortune was perhaps on an ulterior agenda because it is so not true and with the accessibility and ease of modern Europe, is only a myth that I am trying to bust at Escapade Lite.

So how was the idea of Escapade Lite born?

I was once a Researcher at University of Genova and lived in Genova. Since summer is a long beach festival in Italy, every weekend I was on a new beach enjoying the breathtaking scenery and the gorgeously refreshing waters of the Ligurian coast. I remember once I was headed towards “Parco Nazionale di Portofino” which is a National park with beautiful hiking paths starting from Portofino and can end up to Recco near Genova. I was on the train to Santa Margherita Ligure with friends and we were joking in our usual silly manner which entertained quite a few of local and foreign crowd on the train. Among them was an Iranian-American man around 60 years old and listening intently to our conversation. He was listening  intently to our discussion and the route we were discussing for the hike in between our silly jokes. He asked me where we were headed and I replied to him that we would be exploring the beautiful town of Portofino and then hiking through the National Park, finally descending to the beautiful abbey of San Fruttuoso to cool off in the Ligurian sea.

Beautiful Portofino

The man was headed for Cinque Terre and was in two minds as his wife and daughter decided to stay behind in Genova and he was alone in his plan to visit Cinque Terre. He asked us how fruitful it will be for him to go to Cinque Terre by himself and having the local view point, I said that local Italians never go to Cinque Terre during August, as it is the peak season and Italians avoid touristic places and go to more quaint towns and beaches where they don’t have to compete with hoards of tourists from all over the world looking for a place to lay their towels on a jam-packed beach. Therefore, his idea of going to Cinque terre may not be an optimal one since he might find it overwhelming to hustle through the day. Obviously, we suggested him to do what “he” deemed fit for himself. After thinking for a moment, he requested us to let him join us in our hike and we happily agreed. The more the merrier, we said and set off together.

The newly found travel companion and my friends in the hiking path

The path led us through olive and lemon groves with a continuous stretch of Ligurian sea on one side. We had a pleasant conversation and picked some wild berries on the way. Seeing the view of the Ligurian sea from the top of the mountain gave us all such a satisfactory feeling that I could see it in the eyes of our companion too. He was genuinely pleased to have decided to accompany us.

View of Ligurian Sea

After the hike and having cooled off in the water, we took the evening boat to Genova together from where we were supposed to take a Bla Bla car (ride share) and go home to Como. (Those who have or would read my other blogs, would know that Como had been my home for over a decade. No matter where I went afterwards, it had been and always will be my home).

On our boat ride, the gentleman thanked us for our kindness and complimented my itinerary by saying that he had not enjoyed this much, on any day of his five days trip to Europe for which he has paid 10000 USD to a travel agency. The travel package only included a flight to Vienna from the US, from where he picked his daughter and flew to Italy, and a four days stay in fancy hotels in Milan and Genova and the flight back to US. No local connections were advised to him nor paid for. He was struggling to gather information by himself, to a point where his daughter and wife were not even enjoying the holiday and did not accompany him. I felt so sorry for him and offered to draw up a few day trips from Genova and he told me they were leaving in a day. I told him that he could have done all this and in a better way in much than what he had paid. He strongly urged me to take a start helping tourists like him and change this passion into my profession. I joked around and did not think of it much until later.

Well, here I am , finally sharing my passion and my story with you all. I hope this journey with you all  is as exciting and full of adventures as the life in Europe had been for me.