Sunday, 29 September 2013

Frequent Flier Via Germany

Do you travel to a destination often with work? If yes, do you make time out from meetings and conferences to explore? Here’s a story about Germany, shared with me by Priyo Patra, an entrepreneur and avid traveller who manages to make time for the sights and sounds he is travelling to on his work trips.

Around the World
Having travelled to 200 towns and cities within 30 countries, Priyo tells me about his first independent international trip to Germany. "In 2005 I was interning at the German Parliament. After the internship, I met up with friends and went on a month long Eurail, one of the best memories of my life." He recently revisited those memories on a road trip across the country having clocked 10,000 kms along a route that took him from Munich, Stuttgart, Bonn, Cologn, Leipzig, Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg and back to Munich.

Priyo’s work in the air cargo industry has taken him to the blackforest country quite often and it is practically second home to him. “I had an issue conversing with locals in English on my first trip. Germans by nature are not very patient, especially with a few Indians not knowing the difference between tap water and still. This is why it was a very different place to travel to. I saw barely two or three Indians in the four months that I spent there.” 

Road Trip Through Germany 
Over the years though, the country’s perception of India has changed thanks to travellers like Priyo, “You are not like the Indians we know from earlier years,” is a line he gets quite often after befriending locals. “Germans have adapted, when they meet well spoken, well informed Indians they become more friendly and tolerant. The face of the Indian traveller is changing.”

Business Travel
When asked about the pleasures and pains of business travel he says, “When you travel with work you don’t get time to see the place around. I try to extend my trip by a day, and I go on one of the city tours, which is a quick and easy way to explore the city’s sights and sounds. But you cannot soak in the culture, after a while it all looks the same. It is the people I meet that make all the difference. I have made some of my best pals travelling there over the years."

When you travel with work, you know more about it than the average tourist. You don't just want to do touristy things. Another interesting way to explore is through a concept called 'Open Hours,' which is where a person working in a company in Germany invites his friends to work and shows them around. "I was invited to an air conditioning factory where all the guests where shown around the facility, we got to see the insider bits about the industry as well as enjoy a party after! I wonder why we don’t have this in India," he says. 

Top Picks
Berlin: Artists, singers, history, modern history.
Munich: Okoberfest, place where Hitler started his career, Hoffbrau's Pub, HB Beer 
Stuttgart: haven for car enthusiasts, micro breweries, Euro trash music, old disco music. Mills converted to party destinations.
Pilot in making
Travel Mantra
“If in the middle of the night I want to go to Goa, I just go. Today, with the kind of technology and information we have access to, it is only your mind that is stopping you from going where you want to go.”

As if his work travels were not enough, Priyo is just a few levels away from securing a private pilot license. Priyo has his bag full with travel plans to last him a while. With Australia, New Zealand and Japan still on his bucket list, I am sure he will use the license to good measure! 
Countries Priyo has travelled to
(Images courtesy Priyo Patra)

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