One of the best things I ever did was take part in Interrail after graduating from University. This involved travelling around Europe by train. Now this was quite some time ago (cough 21 years) and way before Britain was part of the EU and the Euro came in. There was no Chip and Pin, contactless going on then, we even had to buy Travellers Cheques and cash them in when we got into different countries. Phew when you think of it, that was a bit of a faff.
We travelled through seven different countries but started off in Denmark because we had a friend there. So the journey kicked off at Dover where we got the overnight ferry to Ostend. Then it was a train to Hamburg with a short stopover and where we fell in love with our first voyage into Europe. Then it was another train to Copenhagen or Kobenhaven as it is known.
Exploring Copenhagen was a dream; such a clean place with a vibrant nightlife and lots of green spaces. Even though this was in the 90s the residents were friendly to us and they spoke impeccable English which made things a lot easy for us.
We had made the decision to travel at night and sleep on the train in order to save day time. This meant that we would arrive in a new city in the early hours of the morning fully rested. We would check into a hostel and then go exploring. The downside was that before we could do anything we had to wait an hour or two for the banks to open to change our travellers cheques into the native currency.
A few days later we headed to Oslo which was a fast paced city with a lot to offer. One of the perks of being in a Scandinavian country is that the sun does not set until 11pm. We moved on to Stockholm by train and a few days later we took an overnight ferry to Helsinki. On route to Helsinki there was a mix up with our tickets so we ended up sleeping on the main deck but on the way back we were booked into a super deluxe room. Having slummed it for the last week in Youth Hostels we felt that we were in paradise.
Then it was back to Hamburg where we booked into a hostel for a week. Our aim was to explore Germany as much as we could and it was so well connected internally by train that meant we could travel out each day to different cities and go back to our hostel in Hamburg. This is what we did with Berlin and did we have a ball. Berlin is such a cool city with amazing architecture and sights, we could see why it is so popular with the arty types.
Munich was also a lovely treat and a very pretty place; I remember it being very easy to navigate. We then took the train to Vienna which was elegant beyond belief. While we were in Austria we also travelled to Salzburg where The Sound of Music is filmed.
A day later we headed to Amsterdam and the hustle and bustle was a complete contrast to the peacefulness of Vienna and it took me a while to adjust. Paris was next where we did the typical touristy thing: Effiel Tower, Notre Dame, River Seine, you name it we did it. Then it was time to head home via Calais.
Interrail have two passes that you can choose from. The Interrail Global Pass that lets you travel in up to 30 European countries. It is valid for one outbound and one inbound journey in your country of residence. You can choose which duration suits you from 15 days to one month. There is also the One Country Pass that allows you to travel around in a single country.
Interrailing has its many pros; you get to see a whole continent on a budget, you can be flexible with the duration of your holiday and most of all you have the convenience of arriving into a big city centre rather than an airport that is miles out. The cons of Interrailing is that the pass does not cover all of your trips or ferry crossings, in fact we were thrown off a few trains because our pass was not valid. I would advise you to budget for this.
For more information about Interrail, please visit their website.