When I first heard about the YAP tour I was a little sceptical about it. Travelling with 10 strangers to another continent for three weeks had me a little worried. It’s safe to say that becoming a part of this tour was a great decision. For me personally, this YAP tour was more about the people I met, experiences I had, the memories and friends I’ve made than the places I went. All our hosts were so welcoming, we never felt away from home even for a minute. Opening your home to 11 strangers from a different country is not the easiest thing to do and so first up I’d like to thank all our hosts for their warmth and love.

It all began for me on the 28th of June, a day after everyone else had arrived. As I landed in Brussels, I was informed that Luc, wouldn’t be able to come pick me up as another YAPper’s bags had been misplaced. So instead of waiting at the airport for a couple of hours for everyone to come pick me up, I decided to take a train back to Peter’s place in Tienen. The excitement of travelling in a new country, all alone is something I never experienced earlier. Quite a start, to probably the best trip of my life. As I reached Tienen, a small town near Brussels, our host Peter was there to pick me up. One of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. Peter, if you’re reading this I hope you become Mayor and you will have the support of 11 Indians, always. Luc, Peter, Bruno, Steph, Julian thank you so much for starting our YAP tour on such a high. Also Emile and June, had an absolute blast spending the day playing football with you guys.

Two days flew by and it was time to say goodbye, as continued our tour to Dusseldorf. At the station we met Friedrich, the most organised man I’ve ever seen. As we reached his place, we were greeted with two surprises, first that all of 11 would be staying together and secondly an ID card for all of us. The amount of work he had put into getting his house ready for us had me awestruck. There were directions to the pool, a lucky draw decided who stays in which room and the ID card had tickets and the entire itinerary for the three days he’d be hosting us. Two stand out memories from here would be us dancing in the rain at the bus-stop and going pub hopping with him and Nicolas. Up next, we took a travelled to Ingolstadt. It isn’t the most beautiful place in the world, but it most definitely has the kindest and most welcoming people I know of. Dirk and Anke took care for us like we were their own. Despite not having a common language to communicate in Jorn and Helen were just like family. Miss being woken up by Jorn yelling aufwachen, playing with Lutsy all day long and I hope Helen finds all the player for her Bundesliga sticker book. Visiting the Allianz Stadium was a surreal experience. Stephan, I’d never in my life forget that you gave me a football signed by Philipp Lahm, thank you so much. Andreas, Sandra and Pierre, thank you so much for your hospitality.

This was the end of the German leg of the trip and up next was Austria. As we covered Vienna, Feldbach, Knittelfeld and Dachstein. Philipp, George, Andrea and Heinz hosted us there as we went around town. Playing in the snow atop Dachstein will be a memory I’ll never forget. Andrew’s party room is probably the most rad place I’ve been to. Even thinking of the revving of the Cobra or the Tesla ride still has me getting goosebumps. Everything from the swim in the lake to watching the play, I’ll cherish forever. Another huge achievement was getting Cornelia to come to India on her YAP’s tour and watch a Bollywood movie. A special thank you to Briget for taking care of all 11 of by herself in Vienna.

We travelled to Italy next. First up was Venice. As we walked around place to place, the aura of the place was just overwhelming at times. The palaces, paintings, bridges were all so well thought out. The boat rides, the food, just everything there made me realize why Venice was such a charming place. Verona for me personally was the best city we stayed in. The old Roman buildings, narrow lanes, the river, all in all it was a thing of beauty. Meeting the Mayor and getting featured in an Italian newspaper was something none of us had expected. Ascoli Piceno was probably the most picturesque place I have visited. Luca and Ivo did a fabulous making sure everything was perfect. Meeting Patrick, Monica, Tiziano, Denise, Virginia, Guillermo and Elena were a pleasure.

Lastly, I’d like to thank all the other YAPpers who made this trip the most memorable one of my life. I hope we stay in touch and get to go on another such tour. A special shout out to Pankaj for making all this happen.

YAPper Kaustub’s brief on YAP 2018 to Europe South.
He is son of 41er Srini Saraswatula from 41 Club 213, Mumbai, India