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Call me crazy, but I honestly think London is cheaper than Mumbai.

 

As Indians living with an undervalued, under performing currency, an international trip sees us reaching for our calculators even before checking the itinerary. We so live under the fear of the Euro, Pound, Dollar = INR, that we fail to see how much more the converted currency actually gives us. For those of us who live in Mumbai, the numerical shouldn’t shock us as we’re honestly not far off from London prices and in some cases, way above the mark when we compare them to value.

I speak solely as a tourist and a budget one at that. London, or for that matter, most places in Europe, don’t exactly drive a stake into my plans. And I’ve figured how to do that! We just need to look beyond conversion.

We pay more but we also get more value for what we pay

In April 2019, I dined atan Italian restaurant in Blackheath (okay, so it’s not Central London, but it’s still a posh suburb). There were 8 of us, so that meant 8 starters+8 mains+5 desserts+4 bottles of (really good) wine+4 coffees. The food was par excellence and the service heart-warming. We paid £265 including the tip, which was approximately Rs.24,380. That’s £33 per head.

A month earlier, 4 of us had dined at this new, highly talked about crab place in Bandra. 8 cocktails+1 bottle of wine+4 mains. Average food, average service. I had paid the same and didn’t even enjoy the experience.That’s Rs.6000 per head.

We so live under the fear of the Euro, Pound, Dollar = INR, that we fail to see how much more the converted currency actually gives us.

Public transport takes you farther for less.

What I love about Europe is the choices in transportation it offers. Public transport is easy and comfortable. You can always buy a city card which gives you free access to all modes of travel (which are also easily connected to each other) as well as free entry to most of the sights. And if you’re not short on time, you can always walk.

South-eastern Railways from Blackheath to Charring Cross was £2 one way. Yes, that’s nearly INR 200 but the train was clean and comfortable, the scenery was pleasant, there was no residue of body odour, and I traversed 10.4 km in 20 mins. Uber charges me the same from Mahim to Prabhadevi (4 km) in peak hours and on smelly, bumpy vehicles.

Some experiences are once in a lifetime.

Yes, you pay a bomb if you want to be a luxury traveller, but most of the popular sights offer bundle pricing. I decided to skip the London Eye ride and saw the free AV instead and it gave me the same view. Madame Tussaud is £39 for an adult but honestly, how many times will you be visiting London and even if you do, would you go there again? So just go for it.

Theatre is expensive but the matinees are much cheaper and besides, watching Lion King thumping and bumping in front of your eyes beats any multi-billion-dollar Disney movie. Museums and art galleries are free and here’s where you can view the great masters for nothing. Eating can become an experience at street markets and at Covent Market, where you’ll find world cuisine of exotic countries that may not feature on your travel list. Turn a visit toGreenwich Park or Hyde Park into a picnic and tell me you’ve not made a memory for a lifetime!

Try doing all this in Mumbai. You know you can’t. So, what if it’s going to cost you a little more (which, it may not). When the experience is worth it, the price is worth it. It’s London, after all!

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