Whether we feel ready or not (I certainly don’t), Summer is fast approaching! For today’s post I thought I’d give a little advice and insight into my travel experiences from last year. Having just finished uploading my Interrailing series onto YouTube, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to talk about my trip in more detail on the blog (ignoring the fact that this post is almost a year late *oops*).
So first I’ll give a little summary. Myself and a friend decided to go interrailing for just over 2 weeks; giving us enough time to visit 6 cities of our choice. Wondering why we didn’t go away for a whole month? Well being our first time interrailing, we thought best to test the waters, but also coordinating when we would both be available proved a little more difficult than expected. Looking back, I’m glad we chose the time frame that we did; we crammed a lot in and finished knowing that it was something we’d definitely want to do again.
Before even brainstorming where to go, we went ahead and bought our tickets directly from http://www.interrail.eu/en.
We chose the ‘Travel on every day within a period of 15 days’
ticket as this meant we weren’t restricted with when we were able to travel. After figuring out the best route, it simply was a matter of booking trains, flights and accommodation.
Our 6 destinations were as follows:
- Salzburg (only for a few hours as a stop off)
Everyone who’s been interrailing, or plans to go, will have completely different experiences, expectations and preparation, so I can of course only speak and advise from my own trip. Pre-booking all of our journeys and accommodation was what we decided would be best for us, however a lot of people prefer the freedom of being able to change routes and find accommodation upon arrival. One thing I would definitely suggest is finding out what events are going on in your destinations around the time you’d like to go as often it’s best to get those booked before leaving. For example we booked tickets for the Sparty in Budapest beforehand.
Spending an average of between 2-3 days in each city, we successfully piled in as much as possible. For a city-goer like myself, joining the free walking tours that are available in most places was a necessity. It might not sound like the most fun, but it’s the perfect way to learn about the history of the city and get your bearings in just a few hours.
Another important tip is to talk to the locals. At the end of the day no-one knows a city better than the people that live there; whether it’s a waiter at a restaurant, the staff at your accommodation or some locals in a bar, they will tell you the hot spots and money-saving locations that will make your trip worthwhile.
Next up, public transport…this will be your best friend. Getting taxis is something I’d avoid as much as possible, it only wastes money. You’ll be surprised by just how easy the various undergrounds around Europe are to get the hang of. Day (or week) tickets normally include Tram and Underground access so it’s worth investing (apart from Budapest where everything is pretty much walking distance). If however you do need to get taxis, it’s wise to find out which is the more ‘trusted’ company that you should look out for as there are of course cabs that over-charge when they see us tourists coming (and lets face it, we’re pretty easy to spot)!
General things I found useful included always having a small fold-up map with me and keeping my belongings near/bags closed at all times (common sense, but worth mentioning). Downloading a currency exchange app surprisingly proved more useful than anticipated when figuring out how much we were spending and if something seemed over priced. If you’re a real ‘planner’ like me then ordering a few travel guides before you go is ideal; it’s another easy way to find out the top things worth seeing/doing, gives advice on accommodation and kills time when on the trains. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend planning so much that you end up not having time to relax and do things in a spur of the moment; we mostly decided what we wanted to do each day over breakfast or dinner. It’s also worth mentioning that because it was just myself and another girl travelling, inevitably some places made us feel a little more vulnerable than others, so it’s just important to have your wits about you (and this is the moment I realise, as I type this, I’m slowly turning into my mum).
When it comes to night trains, book your bed/seat tickets far in advance! We made the mistake of leaving it until we got to one of the stations in Germany a few days before and of course there were no beds left. I would however say that the bed prices are often not worth the money; the seats are wide and retract back (further than on flights thank god), so if you’re questioning whether to pay extra for a bed, I’d definitely consider choosing the seats as long as you’ve got some kind of neck pillow and blankets. And for what it’s worth, being without a bed on a 7 hour train journey actually ended up being one of the highlights of our trip as you could only see the comical side of it all!
There are so many things we did that I loved, but for the post I’ve squeezed it down to my absolute ‘must-dos’ for each place we visited:
- Instant (the best ruined bar/club in the city)
- Afternoon Tea in the New York Cafe
- Sitting by the outdoor pools
- Brunch at Strock (famous & delicious chain of bakeries)
- Relaxing in the Museums Quartier (Cafe Halle for the best club sandwiches)
- Film Festival at Rathousplatz
Salzburg (for the day)
- Mirabell Palace & Gardens
- Shopping street ‘Getreidegasse’
- St Peters Church & Asam Church
- Basically any club in Berlin (for obvious reasons)
- ‘Alternative Walking Tour’ to learn about the street art
- ABBA Museum (did you even go to Stockholm if you didn’t go here?)
Over all, this was one of the best experiences of my life so far. It couldn’t have been easier to hop from city to city and the fast pace of it all meant it was over way too soon! I filmed pretty much the entire trip and made it into mini-series over on my YouTube Channel, so if you want to see more of what we got up to then you can check it out here
Thank you so much for reading.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow where would it be?
Love Luisa x