Interrailing: The Greatest Way To Travel Europe
If you are one of these people who have not yet heard of interrailing, I am glad to inform you that this wonderful way of transport does exist. It’s basically an all access train ticket that lets you travel round Europe via trains, bus and boat (some reservation fees do apply). If you’re a nervous flyer like me, planes are not exactly the best option but you still want to see the world – so, I interrailed! Travelling this way via train is totally personal, flexible (if you miss your train, just catch the next one) and the best way to meet people. We chose the 10 day pass within a month – so we could only travel 10 days of our choice out of the 30. This was perfect as we wanted to spend some time in each country, at least 3 days max.
In terms of company, I chose to travel with my boyfriend; as I do genuinely enjoy spending time with him (I mean, it would be worrying if I didn’t)! I say this because after speaking to some of my friends, some couples could never imagine travelling together, or see it as something you should do solo. The reality is, me and my boyfriend are both very big explorers and absolutely love partying together – so there’s never really a conflict in interest. Unless it comes to what we want to watch on Netflix…
Our first destination was Paris, a city I have always wanted to visit! We got there by Eurostar, which was ridiculously fast and so easy to use. We did have to pay for these tickets, but they are massively discounted and the outbound/inbound journey isn’t included within your set travel days. So, yay! For us, Paris was a bit disappointing as it lacked atmosphere and that sense of ‘romance’ it’s so famously known for. It had a very similar feeling to London - over crowded, too many tourists and incredibly expensive. I will say, I did love the café culture, where everyone sat outside regardless of the weather, and drank coffee whilst smoking a cigarette. Classy.
From then on, we travelled to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague (probably our favourite destination), Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, Munich, Nuremburg, Brussels (like Paris, but better) and then the Eurostar back to London. Following that order is our recommended “MUST-SEE”:
· Verzets Resistance Museum
· Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe
· Vzorkovna (Dog’s Bar)
· Café Central – Try their Apple Strudel!
· Labyrinth of Buda castle
· Fortress Hohensalzburg
· The Englischer Garten
· Hangman's Bridge Nuremberg
· The Atomium
We went in mid-January; a time of year that everyone moans about and is feeling rather blue. Luckily for me, it’s my birthday month and I wanted to do something different. The temperature was surprisingly mild in each country, however, when it did snow, it made the atmosphere feel absolutely unreal. It was especially snowy in Salzburg and Amsterdam and what an amazing thing that was to witness. Don’t let travelling in winter put you off! It’s just as beautiful, less crowded and if you like Australian’s, you will bump into them everywhere…
In terms of accommodation, Hostel World is your lifeline. You can book a bed, as cheap as under a tenner, and book it within minutes before arriving. Some countries are very limited to where you can stay via Hostel World, whereas others there are loads to choose from – always read the reviews though! Our top favourites were Hostel One Míru, Prague and Big Fish Budapest. We had an unforgettable experience at these two, purely down to the staff, who are just volunteers and the way they set it out as if you’re at home. Because you’re definitely going to miss home at times - you’ll never resent your privacy again.
As a woman, travelling can be a bit more stressful, especially when going out alone or just simply trying to get yourself sorted in the morning. Here’s some of my top tips:
· Wear a bum bag and keep your passports with you the entire time. Even when you go to bed. I felt safer knowing they were on me than leaving them in a locker in the hostel.
· Bring a bathroom bag, one you can quickly grab with everything you need and hang up when you go the bathroom (which can be far away from the bedroom sometimes).
· Bring slippers or sandals! The only shoes me and my boyfriend brought were Doc Marten’s and wow did we regret that.
· As soon as you arrive at a train station, prepare your route and then leave as quickly as possible. We nearly got mugged at Paris Gare du Nord as we clearly looked like travelers. People lurk round them, begging for money, watching out for vulnerable tourists. So, if you ever feel in danger, pretend to make a phone call, walk closer to other crowds or get a taxi.
· Only ever withdraw cash from a bank or an ATM connected to a bank. Otherwise you will most likely be charged.
· Don’t be afraid to say no and walk away.
I don’t entirely know how interrailing will change once Brexit begins, but please don’t let this stop you from visiting our neighbours across the water. There is so much history to be seen and felt, landmarks you will never forget!
You can easily buy tickets from the interrail site - https://www.myinterrail.co.uk/interrail-passes/.