Vishnu Rajesh is an NIT-IIM alumnus and is currently an M&A Consultant with Deloitte Consulting. But beyond the serious job titles and heavy educational qualifications he is just a young traveler out there to explore the world and himself. Just 26 years old, he has has already traveled extensively in India and backpacked across 20 countries in Europe. His passion for history, culture and the two Fs – Food and Football has prompted him to explore and discover places, stories and flavours that one just can’t find in a travel guide book. Truly a true blue new age millennial.
In this episode, he shares his travel experiences and stories with special focus on his backpacking trip across Europe in 2019, while studying in Strasbourg as an exchange student. During that time he visited France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Czech, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Monaco, Spain and Portugal.
He also shares a detailed overview of how and and where to travel in Europe with tips on places to visit, local transports, stays, food & beverage, football, events and much more, while keeping an eye on the budget. So do listen in esp. if you are planning a trip to Europe 🙂
Podcast Summary: Backpacking in Europe with Vishnu Rajesh
00:00:00 – 00:12:40: Introduction. Growing up, studies, backpacking and traveling in India.
00:12:40 – 01:00:20: Stay and travel across Europe. Tips on backpacking, places to stay and visit, food, football, fans, wine, beer, Oktoberfest, chocolates and more. Cultural immersion. Anecdotes, stories and experiences.
01:00:23 – 01:06:11 : Conclusion. Some more tips and info. Concluding remarks.
Following is just a glimpse of Vishnu’s trip to Europe in the form of a few experiences and stories narrated by pictures. To see a detailed account of the trip look him up on Instagram @vishnurajesh94
“For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women and children, mainly Jews from various countries of Europe.”
I took a train from Warsaw to Oswiecim, better known as Auschwitz, and couldn’t help but think of the Holocaust trains hailing their hapless cargo of humans to the same destination that I was headed to. I could feel the despair around me as I stood on this one-way railway track in Birkenau, imagining innocent families being rooted apart by the slight flick of Josef Mengele’s finger.
Our guided tour group trudged along in an eerie silence, a silence occasionally broken by the sighs and sobs of those among us who couldn’t fathom the things we were seeing and hearing – medical experiments using prisoners (mainly children) as guinea pigs, optimizing the gas chamber to kill more people methodically, but most heartbreakingly of all, the unimaginable voluminous piles of people’s belongings.. labelled suitcases, spectacles, children’s shoes, human hair.. it just got worse and worse. It was all too much to take in, too much for me to possibly comprehend.
Arriving at the place where it all happened and walking through the ‘Arbeit macht frei’ gates was a harrowing experience, but one that we must see for ourselves to realise not only that such unimaginable atrocities have happened merely 75 years ago, but also to not be oblivious to the cruel things that are happening around us today.
23 September 2019.
As a 90s Indian kid, cricket was my religion by birth (Sachin, my God), and my gateway to the world of sports. The first spark that ignited my passion toward football was the iconic ‘EA Sports, it’s in the game’ of FIFA 02 (say: Oh 2. We always wondered how we’d refer to the game from 2010.. FIFA Ten? Yuck!).
The 2002 World Cup was my first tryst with witnessing 90 minutes of magic in stunning stadium atmospheres, where the mesmerising ‘Three Rs’ of Brazil enchanted me (I hope Il Fenomeno isn’t forgotten because of his now more popular namesake, CR7). It wasn’t long before this budding interest in the beautiful game led me to the EPL, and before long, the Chelsea spine of Cech-Terry-Lampard-Drogba betrothed me to the Blues, so much so that my first email ID was ‘email@example.com’ christened after Chelsea’s big-name signings of Andriy Shevchenko & Michael Ballack (an ID that I still use for registrations to keep others spam-free!)
This betrothal as a fan is one that you can never break off; an uninhibited love that you have for your team’s jersey, a team that goes from ‘they’ to ‘we’, the heebie-jeebies before the game, pumping our fists harder than our hearts, the despair over missed chances, the feeling of hopelessness after a crushing defeat.. I could go on.
I lived my decade-long dream of watching my team live in an away game at Lille. The stadium atmosphere was just as I’d imagined — electric, goosebump-inducing, unreal. Staying up at ungodly hours were justified when the iconic UCL anthem played (Die Meister! Die Besten!), and this feeling of exhilaration was evoked in the stadium at a cathartic level that only fellow football fanatics can empathise with.
Though it was always my dream of watching my football idol, Frank Lampard, weave his magic on the field, I am grateful I had the opportunity of seeing him in flesh in his first season (first of many!) of taking over the reins of a club where he’s a legend.
Here’s to the ups and downs in the roller coaster journey as a fan, to the priceless teachings of love & passion & sportsmanship & team spirit that it’s taught me, and to football – which sure as hell isn’t just a game!
3 October, 2019.
The Food Trail
Vishnu has highlighted the following as the best food cities in Europe (in the order of ranking):
Bologna, Lyon, Brugge, Munich and Sevilla. With special mentions to Split and Warsaw. Check out his Instagram feed (@vishnurajesh94) for a detailed description of his food experience in Europe.