A year ago, I hadn’t imagined I would still be sitting at home, doing armchair travelling. Many of us are overwhelmed by this new reality and are looking for ways to come back on the road. I must confess though that I enjoyed the first few months of the lockdown. For once, I started sleeping eight hours a night and not rushing to catch a cheap early morning flight to someplace. Moreover, I started exercising regularly and eating healthy, habits that I intend to retain when I’m back on the road as intensely as before.
Later in the lockdown though, I started missing my favourite cities—the ones I used to travel frequently to. When travel opens in full again, these are the European cities that would be on top of my travel list:
Copenhagen: To be fair, I did travel to Copenhagen during the lockdown. I chose a sunny winter day to take the train to the Danish capital. Well-prepared, with all papers in place, I managed to get into the city. However, this much beloved city of mine turned out to be a shell of its former self. I walked to the Nyhavn district, which with its colourful buildings is a favourite hangout spot for tourists and locals alike. However, that day, the tourist spots were empty, the bars shut. The place was soulless without the fervent activity that surrounds it. I wait for the day when people are back in the city centre, and when one can sit in one of its overcrowded cafés enjoying a drink, while looking at the yachts shilly- shallying in Öresund’s waters.
London: London is our food capital. That’s one city where we have eaten well every time. I won’t deny that at times I have travelled there just to eat great Indian food (specifically, chaat) and to drown in the comfort of hearing English on the streets. Cheap flights to this city have helped. The prospect of watching a day of cricket at its mecca on an English summer’s day is yet another temptation and I am still nursing my dream of squeezing into the English capital this summer.
Modena: Yet another food destination, Modena in Italy is home to Ferrari and Massimo Bottura who heads Osteria Francescana, one of the best restaurants in the world. It helps that my work used to take me to Modena quite often. Whenever possible, I tried to extend my work trips to combine them with weekends. On these weekends, I would explore Modena’s famous eateries and hunt for the best places to shop local produce. Modena is renowned for three of Italy’s most significant heritage foods—Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, traditional balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto ham. Being a vegetarian, I stocked up on balsamic vinegar and cheese. Now that the stock is running out, I am itching to return to this elegant city.
So, these are the cities I am dreaming about. When putting together this list I thought of how strange it is that the mind seeks familiarity. Don’t I think of myself as an explorer, always on the lookout for new places and seeking new experiences? And here I am waiting for the lockdown to end so I can visit the cities I have missed so much in the bygone year. Well, that’s one thing I have learnt about myself in these strange times.