Retracing the Journey of Europe’s Forgotten Refugees.

Having grown up in a protective Indian family and been on the road for almost four years, I like to think I know a thing or three about freedom. Breaking away from the shackles of a cubicle-bound life was easy. Breaking away from the expectations of society continues to be a constant battle – and one that I’m not the first or last one to face.

Today, I’m hopping over to Western Europe to hike through the secret trails of the Huguenots and Waldensians – religious refugees who were once banished from their home for rebelling against the popular religion; they walked through the mountains, valleys and vineyards of France, Switzerland and Germany in search of freedom. I hope to follow in their footsteps, find solace in their monasteries and truth in their wines, and bring you stories from a region that hasn’t been discovered by most.

Germany hiking, hiking trails europe
The forests of West Germany. Photo by Groman123.

Why is this trip special?

This trip is a milestone in my journey as a travel blogger. It will be my first campaign with iAmbassador, perhaps the most successful travel bloggers collective of our times and one that I’ve aspired to work with. Next, it will be making country-hopping, despite my troublesome Indian passport, a norm for me; this time, I managed to score a Schengen visa at the German Consulate in Tbilisi and plan to fly back to Georgia for another month of adventure afterwards. Finally, it will be my first trip to gorgeous Switzerland; got tips?

europe hiking
On the long journey of a travel blogger. Photo by Nick Page.

A New Way to Experience Europe.

My most memorable adventures in Europe include kayaking in Spreewald (Germany) through villages connected only by water, cycling along the mountainous countryside of Umbria (Italy) while living in the studio of an Italian artist, traveling back in time at El Rocio (Spain) where horses are still used in lieu of cars, and hiking through picturesque small towns in the French Alps.

But on this trip, Visit Europe has promised to take adventure to a new level – on one of 33 cultural routes that showcase Europe in a different light. On the “Huguenot and Waldensian Trail”, we’ll be hiking through the German vineyards of Maulbronn, exploring unconventional gateways to the Black Forest and travelling back to the Middle Ages in the Swiss town of Lenzburg. We are 8 bloggers from 8 different countries – rebels in our own ways – on a mission to relive this walk of freedom.

Photo by rosmary.
Photo by rosmary.

Come along?

You can follow my adventures live on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and our collective journey with #VisitEurope. See you from the other side?

I will be traveling on invitation from Visit Europe and iAmbassador; opinions on this blog are always on my own.

The Shooting Star Academy

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  1. In Switzerland do go on a journey around the lake from Geneva and crossing into France for part of the journey and returning back to Geneva which is a really scenic route with small villages with pretty houses and jetties with lots of boats on the huge lake which is partly in France and mostly in Switzerland. Also visit Mont Blanc Chamonix via the ropeway for a wonderful view of the snow covered mountains. You will really enjoy it there.

  2. I went to Switzerland, oh, a million years ago. But the one thing I enjoyed most was skiing – kind of an obvious activity there, but do try it.
    I’m so looking forward to reading all about your trip and adventures. You’re such an inspiration to me! I’ve just booked my first solo trip and I have to say reading your blog helped tip the scales. So, thank you! 🙂

    1. That’s amazing! Where’s your first solo trip taking you? Hope you had a chance to follow my adventures on social media. Blog posts coming soon 🙂

      1. The “official” solo trip is to Bali in December, as in tickets booked. I hope to venture out on my own in the coming months before then.. Oh, and I follow you everywhere! 😀

  3. pragatibidkar says:

    Hello Shivya, Society will always take umbrage to something or the other 😊

    Wish you the best! Look fwd to following your exploits. I have not been to any of the places you mention but heard a lot about the trains in Switzerland…like the ‘golden express’? Or similar. These trains traverse the length of the country and offer jaw dropping scenery. Whatever you see, I am sure you will make it come alive with your words and photos!

    1. Thanks for following along, Pragati! I only had the chance to go to on normal Swiss trains, and wow, it was amazing journeying along that gorgeous countryside.

  4. Sounds absolutely fabulous! Have an awesome trip, look forward to reading all about it!

    1. It was quite a learning experience and a discovery of postcard Medieval villages too! Stories coming soon 🙂

  5. Great experience Buddy,
    Love to see you are following your dreams
    I want to Join you But cannot, i am enjoying every journey of yours.

    1. That’s awesome Rathina! I loved the little time I spent there. See my latest post for the villages and activities I recommend!

  6. Your journey retracing their steps during your Europe trip is a powerful reminder of the struggles faced by refugees throughout history, and it resonates deeply in today’s context. Thank you for sharing this enlightening adventure with us and for reminding us of the importance of remembering and learning from our past.

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