travel

Interrail around Europe

I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list

Susan Sontag

Normally when I travel, I will fly to my destination and use other modes of transport whilst I’m there, so travelling through different countries by train through Europe was a completely new experience for me! This was my time using the company Interrail to travel around Europe for a couple of weeks during my summer and to do this, I purchased the Interrail 10 days within 2 months global pass. This allows you to travel 10 times on Interrail trains within a period of 2 months, though I kept my trip short to around 2 weeks. You have access to 31 different countries with the use of this pass and this cost me around £275, not including any seat reservations. Other passes are available, depending on what you want to get out of your travel experience but this was the one that suited me best.

Amsterdam

The first stop on my trip was Amsterdam. This is somewhere I have always wanted to go and I was amazed by its beauty and peacefulness despite it being a fairly busy city. It never felt crowded or overwhelming and there was a certain charm to it that I immediately fell in love with so I really hope to return one day. The people were so friendly and it was a very welcoming place to make my first stop. My first impression was that there were a huge number of bikes which I think outweighed the number of cars but this just added so much more character to the city and was a refreshing change for me. I also loved the food which was absolutely delicious and I would recommend trying the crepes and pancakes which Amsterdam does particularly well!

Whilst in Amsterdam I visited the Anne Frank Museum which I think is a must see for anyone visiting this city. It gave me chills to walk through the house, knowing the fear that was there for the family and it was a great way to learn more about what they went through during their time in hiding. I also think it is an important reminder and serves as a lesson to us to never let anything like that happen again, though it should be noted that it can be upsetting to visit.

Another great place to visit is the Van Gogh Museum which I adored as I have always been a fan of his art. Not only that, but you can read his letters to his brother which gives such an incredible insight into his mindset and mentality at the time, though this can sometimes be upsetting given that he was deeply troubled.

Something very different to these two places was the red light district that of course I had to walk through whilst visiting Amsterdam! It was a bit surreal for me as there were women standing in shop windows beckoning people to come in and it was such a stark contrast to life at home for me where prostitution is illegal. However, I think a quick walk through just for the experience is a great part of visiting Amsterdam!

Berlin

From Amsterdam I travelled by train to Berlin which took about 8 hours for me and I did this at night so slept on the train- not as comfortable as I was hoping! Berlin is an immensely fascinating city with so much history and that was something that I was keen to explore. I stopped off at the Reichstag building which was free to enter and offered some fantastic views of the city before heading to the Brandenburg Gate which is of course so iconic in the city’s history. Being someone who is very interested in history, both of these were great sights for me to see.

I don’t think you can go to Berlin and not see the Berlin Wall so of course this is somewhere I was so excited to visit. It was incredible being up close to the wall and seeing the writing and drawings on it and to think about what it must have been like to be completely separated from those on the other side. It was one of my favourite sights that I saw on my whole trip and I would definitely recommend going to see it.

I also stopped at Checkpoint Charlie which was great to give more context to the East and West Berlin theme that I was exploring that day and I then went on to Hitler’s secret bunker, which is now actually a car park with some signs up! However, it was still fascinating to visit and it was almost hard to believe where I was standing, where so much history was made.

Aside from the history, Berlin had a fantastic shopping centre and was a really vibrant city with so much to do and I was so glad I was able to visit it on this trip.

Copenhagen

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Copenhagen was one of my favourite places that I visited on this trip and it really stood out for me as it was such a pleasant city to be in. It was so clean, the people so friendly and had so much charm to it which is different from anywhere else. To me, there is something for everyone in Copenhagen and that’s another reason why I loved it so much! I arrived on another overnight train from Berlin which took about 9 hours and went to stay with one of my Danish friends, so it was also the perfect opportunity to catch up!

My first stop was actually to Svanemølle beach so I could chill out after a hectic few days of sightseeing! The weather and the sea were both a lot warmer than what I was expecting and it was a perfect summer day to relax! I then went on to see the iconic Little Mermaid Statue (which is actually a lot smaller in person than it first appears) before going to the palace belonging to the royal family. One of the interesting things here was that you could actually go up to the front door and knock on it which is pretty much impossible to do in Buckingham Palace in London so I loved seeing the difference here!

I also went to Nyhavn, a canal which offers some great photo opportunities and also has lots of nice restaurants to visit. Even late at night the place felt incredibly safe and I felt comfortable to walk around on my own which is something I cannot say when I am in London!

My final stop was at Tivoli Gardens which is a fantastic amusement park which I would definitely recommend visiting as it is so much fun and definitely has something for all age groups. Nearby there is a great shopping scene and pretty much every shop you can think of will be featured here, the prices are also fairly reasonable too. I was actually quite sad to leave Denmark and I would love to return in the future, I had no idea how much I would love it and I think it’s quite an underrated travel destination!

Warsaw

Warsaw had a completely different vibe to Copenhagen. For a start, it was a lot busier and felt a lot more like a commuting kind of city. From a history point of view it is very interesting and there are also some great opportunities to try new foods that I have never had before including a lot of soups! The journey from Copenhagen was another overnight trip, lasting about 12 hours and I found myself immediately missing the spare room I had stayed in at my friend’s apartment in Denmark! The train was freezing cold on this particular journey so I would recommend bringing a blanket with you if you are going to travel by train at night because I was shivering all night long! I have to admit after the terrible train journey I did spend a bit of time in a coffee shop here trying to stay awake after the fatigue started to kick in!

Bern

Aside from Copenhagen, Bern was the other stand out city on this trip that blew me away much more than I was anticipating. Its natural beauty was stunning including the lovely colour of the water in the river and the forests and mountains surrounding the quaint buildings. It was so picturesque, so to me it was the gem of the trip. I visited the centre of the city where, to my surprise, there was a bear pit right in the middle which I wasn’t sure how I felt about as it seemed a little cruel but I am aware that the bear is a symbol in their culture so there were good intentions behind this. Hiking here was so much fun and I was relieved to be staying in a hotel instead of sleeping on the train that night so I was able to have a nice hot shower afterwards! I think a must see here is definitely Einstein’s house which is so great to learn more about him and know you are standing where he actually lived! This place is truly stunning and I have to say the Swiss chocolate that I had here is the best I’ve ever eaten and I’ve eaten a fair amount of chocolate in my life but this tops them all!

Brussels

The final stop on this whirlwind tour was Brussels which took about 7 hours on my last overnight train of the trip! I think this city has so much to offer particularly in terms of its architecture which blew me away with the scale and beauty of it. Places such as the palace are stunning to look at and surrounded by flowers so it is very aesthetically pleasing. Of course I also had to see Manneken Pis which everyone talks about although the statue itself was actually very small. Whilst I did love this city, I must admit that I did feel safer elsewhere and it was particularly crowded when I was there so it was a slightly hectic day but I enjoyed it nonetheless. From here, it was only just over 2 hours on the train home to London so it was such an easy journey you could definitely do it in a day if you are travelling from London. By using this train service and doing the overnight journeys I did manage to save a lot of money on accommodation so this is something to think about when planning your trip.

Overall top 5 tips:

  1. Do your research when planning what train company you want to use and find out the journey times to each of your destinations. It’s helpful to weigh up the pros and cons when deciding if you want to sleep on overnight trains or not.
  2. Pack light as you will be carrying your luggage around a city if you are not checking in to a hotel.
  3. Book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment if there are certain events or attractions that you particularly want to see.
  4. Bring a blanket if you are planning to sleep on the trains and don’t want to pay extra for different accommodation options (these can be quite pricey).
  5. Bring different currencies if you are visiting a variety of different countries and don’t forget that you will also need to have your train ticket stamped on every train you go on in each country so do not lose this piece of paper!

Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller

IBN BATTUTA

Thanks for reading my experience using Interrail to travel around Europe! Stay tuned for more travel adventures to come! XOX

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