As luck would have it, a friend introduced me to Catterfly when I was planning my trip and it was great to get advice from people who know destinations the best – not only in terms of the sights and activities that are important and unique to those places, but also how to experience local culture and activities considering the kind of personalized travel experiences that I was looking for.
We started off on a great note as they advised me to look beyond Munich, Berlin and Barcelona and introduced me to hidden gems in Germany and Spain. The true revelation was their recommendation to travel to the south of Spain – in the Andalucía region. Culturally Andalucía is at a crossroads between Spain, Africa and the New World – with influences from Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Muslim cultures that shaped the region over hundreds of years.
My journey spanned from Munich, Berlin and surrounding sights to Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Ronda and Madrid. Phew! My days were packed with activities but night time was when the cities truly came alive. Each city has a unique take on nightlife with its pub crawls and walking tours that provide a unique experience to travelers looking for a taste of local life. And, despite language barriers, conversations flow freely after a beer or two! I met lots of tourists and locals – and everyone sharing helping others to experience these countries from others’ perspective as well. Clearly, what I took away from my time with Germans and Spaniards is not only the great memories but also the warm and welcoming culture of these countries.
Being the history buff that I am, I wanted to visit Berghof (Hitler’s headquarters) but as it turned out – it closes early in winter. Big props to the Catterfly team for giving me up to date information and recommending me to visit Dachau concentration camp near Munich – a very poignant location to learn about this dark chapter of human history. I spent almost four hours in the Dachau concentration camp reading about 15 years of abject terror. Walking the halls of a place that has seen so much suffering was surreal and will stay with me forever. The desolation of the landscape is a far cry from the vibrancy of modern Germany, and it is startling to see the suffering endured by people only a few generations older than ours. I walked away from the experience profoundly grateful. “Never Again” is a cry that all of us would do well to remember.
All the recommendations that Igot throughout this experience were immensely useful, and I would like to give back to the Catterfly community with some tips and tricks of my own :-
• Using public transport is a great way to get around in most cities in Europe. I highly recommend the walking tours in most cities!
• Taking the hop-on hop-off bus tour can be more convenient than using public transport if you’re looking to cover important tourist destinations in a short time. It saves time and energy, and you can choose how long you want to spend in each destination. Take 24-48 hours pass and spend an extra day or two covering attractions not on the tourist circuit using public transport.
• Be mindful of opening and closing hours, and try and pre-book your entrance tickets online. It saves you the time you would have spent in line, so you have more time to explore or unwind!
Bye Bye – Till next time (Adiós – Hasta la próxima vez / Tschüss – Bis zum nächsten Mal)…!