An honest confession: We were 3 crooks with super low budgets, planning a last minute trip to McLeod Ganj. Also, it was a long weekend when all the people of Delhi left for the hills. Chances of success- Rare.
But we were not going to let the idea of what is in our head. It was one of those people with a long-lasting plans that filled your heart with enthusiasm. Despite considering the above mentioned obstacles and the safety of only the exit girls, we did manage to pull off a refreshing and well-managed trip.
Go ahead and learn how we did it, so that the next time you’re fine, you can use one of these hacks:
Total per capita budget: INR 4,000 / –
Duration: 1 night / 2 days
The first 15 minutes of my earthly life are spent staring at the hills (on my laptop) every day. Being a workaholic, a break seemed almost impossible until one fine day I decided to just follow my heart.
Everyone pumped and set to travel, I rode in 2 more friends and when the HPTDC website flashed – No tickets are available! What a scary thought – I will not even get a room. But that was no match for my enthusiasm. The desire to ‘just go’ forced me to find an alternative!
How did we book last minute tickets in Himachal when there were no seats for us in HPTDC buses?
One round of working at a travel firm was planning a trip at the 11th hour (or at the 59th minute, to be more precise). Get a little more voila bug to your coworker! Next thing I know, we were on a surprisingly comfortable trip to McLeodganj.
Round trip cost: 1,800 / – per person
Remaining amount: 1,100 / – per person
Hack: Contact travel agents in such situations
Tip: HPTDC buses are cheaper. If you plan in advance, you can save!
Traveler friend to the rescue: Even in this peak time, we found a comfortable room and our worst nightmare was over!
After getting in touch with some of our best friends, we discovered this strange place, which we called Shanti Cafe & Guest House Owned by John, an avid traveler and tour guide. He succeeded in getting us a room at his place at very short notice and saved the day!
Cost: INR 900 / – per night (300 per person)
of expense: INR 2,100 / – per person
Left: INR 900 / – per person
Hack: Always keep your resourceful traveling friends close!
Day 1: Mind you, we went to the cold and rest, not to get out. And our journey was just about the same!
Stop 1: Food. View. weather.
The sudden shock got us exposed to the shining scenes. Our bus circled around the winding roads, the mossing Beas River in the gardens of gold and mauve followed by full-pebble and sky. Our bus stopped! The weather was just fine. We could not ask for more! We reached McLeodganj, checked into the cozy rooms (just 5 minutes from the bus stand), and ordered some delicious breakfasts!
What we ate: Omelette and Coffee!
Cost: INR 50 / – per person
of expense: INR 2,150 / – per person
Left: INR 850 / –
Stop 2: Next, we decided to chill at Shiva Cafe.
We spent our day near the waterfall away from tourist jazz. Walking can be difficult, but trust me, the peace there was worth all the trouble! Once we reached the top, we knew why the place is so popular. It is a beautiful waterfall cafe with a waterfall on its banks. And oh, this is Pot Head’s paradise! 😉
What we ate: Maggie, Hash Brown and Cold Coffee
Cost: 120 per person
of expense: 2270 per person
Left: 730 / – Rs.
Stop 3: Vicar Bakery and this is coconut heaven!
This bakery was recommended by a local friend on our way to McLeodganj. Although it looks like any other café, the delectable options it leaves us wanting for more! Variety of tea (for power infinity), mouth-watering cookies and brownies, freshly brewed cappuccino – I’m sure you won’t find coffee that way where there is someone else!
What did we have Cinnamon tea, freshly brewed cappuccino and coconut paradise cookie
Cost: Rs 130 per person
of expense: 2400 per person
Left: 600 / – Rs.
Tip: Do not return without trying freshly brewed Cappuccino and Coconut Paradise Cookies
Stop 5: Traveling the hills one night without looking at the sky?
Tiny lawns, a lantern, an old monk, a few glasses, the creepy sound among the cedar trees – our small courtyard of the Shanti Cafe. No network, no light, just some random old numbers running on the ipod – that’s just what we want – to stay cut off from the outside world and dwell in our thoughts of the cold air flowing through our hair. With Star Light Sky wild.
What did we eat Lentils, roti and some tasting
Cost: 120 per person
of expense: 2520 per person
Left: 480 / –
Tip: John can help you arrange some wine if you want!
Day 2: UN visited village and hail
We found a way through the wood from the café Dharamkot. We had up to 5 on hand to take a quick walk to the village and return to the cafe for some Kahwa tea (yes, in Himachal) and chocolate pancakes – they were delicious, especially for the price we paid.
Breakfast: Pancakes, Tea and Cheese Sandwiches
Cost: 100 per person
of expense: 2620 per person
Left: 380 / –
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It was already near 12 and we now had only a few hours left. We could not stand there in the shed and waited for the rain to stop. So, we finally went back to Shanti Cafe which was now looking completely different. Hail dropping in the lawn, trees waving in the cool breeze, drizzle soaking our faces and smelling delicious food – it was our little utopia! Yes, we ended up spending the rest of the café hours available at every delicious morsel – cheese french fries, pancakes, momos, coffee and lemon ginger tea.
Cost: 190 per person
of expense: 2810 per person
Left: 190 / –
However this was the fastest break we took at our guest house and made it even more special for us! And did we mention that it was a perfectly safe all girls trip?!?
So, come on girls, now you know that a limited budget, security issues or ticket unavailability cannot stop you from taking a break. Head out and go for that long overdue break!
read ahead: 8 inspiring stories of women on Wanderlust