HYDERABAD: Vijaybhaskar Narlakanti, 24, seems almost untouched by Covid-19 or the lockdown. For starters, he has visited six countries in 2020 alone, a few during the lockdown too! “I have visited 16 countries so far I have found my key to happiness as travel. Even though 2020 was a travel restricted year for many, I got to visit six countries this year. Also, this pandemic gave me an idea to tell my travel stories to others because of the continuous appreciation on my photography skills.”
He straddles between India and Germany and went there around March. In May 2020, he traveled within Germany as border restrictions were strict. “In July, I went to Lichtenstein and Luxembourg as they are the smallest countries, less populated so travel restrictions were lifted. September was lucky as the north part of Europe is less affected by corona, travel was allowed and this way I covered Belgium without restriction. I traveled to Slovenia in November and finally my birthday month in December I visited Czech, the only bordering country with no border control. I managed to enter Prague without any restrcition and to my surprise, the government of Czech had lifted some of the travel restrictions.
Currently working at Bosch and also pursuing his Masters, this young Hyderabadi’s fascination for all things German and its contribution to the European automotive market made him move to Germany. “Whether I travel on off-the-beaten-path yellow roads on a land journey, or aboard a small ship cruise or river cruise. I am connected to day-to-day European life, with its many historical sites and culinary treasures. The finest handpicked hotels add a luxurious sense of place which makes me feel right at home.
Along with making new friends and learning new culture, I got to explore many new places. I would list out all the interesting places in and around the neighbouring countries of Germany and visit them in my study breaks. These places included Eiffel tower in Paris, Atomium in Belgium, Astronomical clock in Prague, Lake bled in Slovenia, Rhine falls in Switzerland, Pula arena in Croatia, Dachstein peak in Austria.”
Among Vijay’s favourite travel activities river rafting and India’s largest bungee jump in Rishikesh, paragliding in Manali, parasailing in France, and scuba diving in Croatia.
Also a numismatist, his recent trips were cut to as short as just two days. “I was lucky to visit beautiful places even in such a short span of time like Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Czechia, Luxembourg. One of my best travel experiences was exploring Europe’s smallest country Liechtenstein.”His Instagram page @the_travellingfork also includes pictures of native dishes from different countries such as Belgium waffles, Austrian Tiramisu, Italian Macrons, Los churros, Turkish chee-koftay.
“Being away from home country, I always love to cook and bake. I usually post pictures and reels of both Indian and continental cuisine which I cook. I hope my culinary skills will someday help me in starting my own cafe.”
Born and brought up in ECIL, Hyderabad, this engineering graduate from CBIT, Hyderabad, says that travel during the pandemic was rough as rules kept changing every day. “I followed the Google travel planner to plan my travel. As the impact of lockdown has affected the economy of European tourist countries the most. Initially, countries with less population and lesser tourist attractions were open to welcoming the tourists. This way I managed to check them out in my traveled countries list and then searched for countries with vibrant natural landscapes. There I came across Slovenia – the jewel of nature.
It may be a small country, but rich in nature. During this, I came across real travelers all over Europe and shared our experiences formed a community. This is how my family on Instagram also grew during Covid-19. As a photographer, it also helped me to capture the real frames and flew drones without any restrictions. So what’s Vijay’s takeaway from the pandemic? “Humans are adaptive and we are more flexible than we think.”