Interrailing

Interrailing is very much GO GO GO. With unplanned train journeys and last minute hostel bookings, you never know which country you will end up in! My plan was to start in Amsterdam and to get back home in one piece in roughly 1 months time, I had no other plan whatsoever and here’s how that went for me…

Day 1: Amsterdam

First stop: Amsterdam. I’d never been before, apart from a bit of duty free shopping for a transfer flight in 2015 so I figured it was a great place to start!

After landing, I took a 20 minute, €5.20 journey to Amsterdam Centraal Station and took the ferry crossing over to my hostel, ClinkNOORD. After dropping my bag off, I hit the city for a bit of site seeing and picked up some lunch before heading back to the hostel. As I was travelling alone, I was building up the courage to go and make new friends in the bar. Nerves building up, I walked down the stairs to the underground area and only bloody bumped into my old friend John from Uni! I had a drink with him and his friend at the hostel then we went out to Adams bar for some strong cocktails which then led me to rap the whole of ‘Charmaine del a Rosa’ on the way to the Red Light District and possibly a few run throughs of ‘AND THE TING GOES SKRRRAHH’ so as you can tell I was enjoying my first night in the Dam! After downing jagerbombs in Players bar, we made a McDonalds stop for some chicken nuggets at about 5am and took the ferry back to the hostel!

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Day 2: Amsterdam

Waking up with a hangover and only minutes to get ready for my booking at Anne Frank’s House was not the best idea. However, after a 30 min walk I felt slightly better when I arrived and spent a very interesting hour there learning more about her diary. I spent most of the day walking around Amsterdam, seeing the Red Light District in the daytime, looking around old, vintage shops, dodging bicycles dressed in flowers through the streets, eating delicious pastries from the bakeries and stopping for lunch at Ava’s Café. I made a visit to the sex museum and then went to meet my lovely friend, Lidewey who lives close to the city. We talked, laughed, reminisced, ate Frakandel and had hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows! She also brought me THE BEST cheesecake from the new bakery she had just started working at. After our goodbyes, I headed back to the hostel to catch up on sleep but met a new roommate, Sulochan from New York who happened to be celebrating her birthday, so what better to do than accompany her to the bar and bring the cheesecake along (which may I add allowed me to make more friends too!!).

Day 3: Amsterdam – Berlin

I made a 7.5 hour journey to Berlin from Amsterdam and made the mistake of grabbing a quick breakfast in the morning and being stuck on the train with only a bounty and a twix available in the shop! So as soon as I arrived, I took 3 stops on another train to Alexanderplatz had the most amazing burger in a café and then checked into Wombats Hostel. They gave me a free drinks token to use so I went straight up to the rooftop view bar and drank a pint of beer don’t you know.

Day 4: Berlin

Waking up remembering that you are in a different country was so crazy! Breakfast at the hostel set me up for a whole day of walking and sightseeing. I walked to the Berlin Wall and admired all the artwork by artists from around the world then sat down by the River Spree. I then walked back to TV tower to take some pictures and took a train a few stops to visit the Holocaust Memorial and walked about 15 minutes to visit The Topography of Terror – an indoor/outdoor history museum.

Day 5: Berlin – Prague

After an all you can eat breakfast for €4.50, I took the train from Alexanderplatz to Berlin HBF and then boarded the train to Prague. When the guy came to check the tickets, he told me I have to leave first class (oops) not that it looked any different to any other class I’d ever travelled in! Until of course when I actually arrived to where I was supposed to be sitting – a rickety old carriage with dirty, ripped seats… ahhhhhh. Prague was one of the places I was most excited to visit. My plan was to stay 2 nights so I could fit everything in. I walked to Hostel Downtown, met some guys in the common room and decided to go to one of their free meals there and this night was SPANISH NIGHT… yesss gazpacho and Spanish omelette for dinner! After little convincing, I agreed to join their pub crawl for 20. We played drinking games first and I just remember downing a few absinthes before arriving back at 5am with a bag of chips! You can take the girl outta…

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Day 6: Prague

There wasn’t really a day 6 to be honest. Maybe a bit of vomiting and when I say a bit, I think I stopped at 6pm! I was persuaded to go to Mexican night that night for homemade tacos which were soooooo good and then I felt just that bit better to go out with my new buddy Julia from San Fran to buy a churro cone with vanilla ice cream.

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Day 7: Prague

Wow, a week into my trip and I’d only got drunk once, not bad! Although day 7 was my check out day, I had to extend an extra night because I hadn’t even seen any of Prague! Pancakes for breakfast and a walk out into the city with Julia and our new friend we’d met at breakfast, JJ from Canada. We went over Charles Bridge and walked down by the river to take some amazing pictures. Then we did some shopping, saw the John Lennon pub, watched some street music and saw the Astronomical clock in the centre. After some lazing around back in the hostel’s common room, the three of us plus Katie who was working at the hostel at the time went out to Futura Contemporary Art Museum to see the famous bending over statues. If you want to know what is inside the arse… it’s presidents feeding each other soup… DON’T ASK! To my surprise, back at the hostel was an English Christmas Dinner being cooked for everyone after I jokingly said I wish I could have had one earlier that day – stuffing, cranberry, yorkshire puddings the LOT! That night there was a spectacular light show where they dance on the buildings. I was getting tired but thought I’d go anyway as most people in the hostel were going. Anyway, long story short – the train was too packed so some of us just returned back to the hostel, made popcorn and watched Shrek!

Day 8: Prague – Budapest

When staying in hostels, your roommates can change daily as everyone is on their own adventure. This particular morning, me and Julia woke up and got talking to Irena from New York. As we got talking, we realised that Budapest was all part of our intended plans but none of us had anything booked. After a few minutes, we had a room for 3 booked at the Mandala Hostel for 3 nights in Budapest! After booking it, we then introduced ourselves to each other, went for breakfast, chilled in the common room, said our goodbyes and caught a train to Budapest! We decided to take the whole journey in the restaurant on the train and made a new friend from Canada who had an interesting job with his name being Erik Everhard… When we arrived at Budapest, me and the girls walked to the Mandala hostel (the cutest hostel ever!) and made a falafel stop in a local restaurant at midnight!

Day 9: Budapest

We had brunch together in a hummus bar and on our way to Liberty Bridge, we stopped to watching some incredible dancing on the side of a building, mesmerising. We met one of Irena’s friend from Hungary who took us up on a hike to the Liberty Statue to take pictures of the amazing views. We then walked back down to hire some bikes, and we cycled back over the bridge and back to our hostel for a quick outfit change. After a visit to a greek restaurant, we went out to Ruin Bar Hostel Party an old building with very interesting, quirky décor and even though I was only going out for ‘one’… well I didn’t. We then walked round to another bar called Szimpla Bar and met up with some other friends we’d met in Prague. These ruin bars are an absolute must see, they have different themed rooms with one being like a science lab where the staff are dress in lab coats and the cocktails are served in science beakers! We all then grabbed some chips and garlic mayo then went back to carry on the party until 5am at the Ruin Bar Hostel Party!

Day 10: Budapest

Ouch my head….!! After waking up around midday, we chilled at the hostel, drank lots of tea and played ukulele and guitar with a new friend we’d met from Belgium. The 3 of us then went out for lunch in an outdoor café where I could just about stomach a bowl of soup because of my hangover, ok and maybe chocolate cake and an apple caramel cake but whatevs. We went back to the hostel to play some more guitar and ukulele feeling sorry for ourselves, then found motivation from somewhere to go clothes shopping and eat the best almond ice cream in the entire world! Myself and Julia had planned to go up to Krakow together so as this was our last night we wanted to make sure we got to the famous Budapest Baths. Around 9pm, got all ready and headed on a long walk to the baths to only be told by the guy ‘sorry, you can’t come in, its man day’. ‘No, it’s Wednesday’, I told him thinking of course he’d told me it was Monday. Then again he said, ‘No it’s MAN DAY today only for man, not women’.

Well I never. Fuck this, so we went for a burger!

Day 11: Budapest –Krakow

We planned over our burger that we will wake up at the crack of dawn to fit the baths in before we leave Budapest.. due to a lack of sleep and increase of partying; this didn’t happen. Myself and Julia decided to head to Krakow and our friend Irena was going to stay a few more days in Budapest. We were running really late and our taxi skidded up to the bus station just in time. We had JUST MADE the bus and sat down to start our 6 hour/€9 journey to Krakow. We drove through Slovakia and stopped on the Polish border for passport control, then to a garage to stock up on snacks and then continued to Krakow bus station. When we got off, we walked into the big shopping mall and bumped into our friend Jeff whom we met in Prague (small world when interrailing!). Once me and Julia dropped off our bags at Mosquito hotel, we went out to an Italian restaurant. Calamari, prawn linguine, pumpkin gnocci, tiramisu, chocolate cake and drinks and the bill came up to about £13 for both!!! It’s unbelievable how cheap it is there! After our meal, we went to sit in the square with blankets around us and sat by the fire drinking hot chocolate and listening to live music.

Day 12: Krakow

When we arrived at our hostel, we booked tickets to Auschwitz as a tour. Once we had eaten breakfast, we ran for our transfer (again we were almost late) and then took an hour and a half journey where we had a guided tour around Auschwitz and Birkenau. These are very emotional and moving places to visit and have a lot of history behind them and I’m really glad I finally got a chance to learn more about the story.

Once we arrived back to our hostel, we got ready and went out for dinner. The food was UNREAL and again really cheap! We had the table in the window which we had to jump up on a platform to sit at as it was like a display window. We ordered soup, polish dumplings, salmon, chicken, pasta, apple pie, coffee mousse with whipped cream mmmmm.. We noticed because of the table we were sat at, people kept looking twice almost to see if we were real and not mannequins, which gave us an idea haha. We spent most of the night crying with laughter pretending to be mannequins at a table and then moved when then they came close to the window. We made almost everyone jump and laugh so much, we could barely talk through laughing!! You had to be there OK?!

Day 13: Krakow-Vienna

After breakfast, I walked Julia to the bus station where she started her journey over to Ireland and I went over to the Jewish Quarter which was full of random street art and had a food festival on. I then walked 2 HOURS to Lake Zakrzowek (which was worth it in the end but I was not prepared for the walk and was tempted to wee in the bushes when I was nowhere near a toilet). I hiked up the mountain and looked over at the views which were insane. I walked back through the old town and had a pretzel which cost me 20 cents and watched some street performers.

I’d booked an overnight train to go to my next stop, Vienna. On the train, I had a little Harry Potter style cabin to myself so I reclined all the chairs so it was like a huge bed and used my rucksack as a pillow and scarf as a blanket.. PERFECT.. until the ticket man woke me up to check my ticket at 2:30am!!

Day 14: Vienna

It was 7am when the train pulled up in Vienna, I walked to my hostel and they welcomed me in with eggs, waffles and homemade porridge. I caught the train into the centre to make the free 10am walking tour but was so confused as to which group to join, I ended up walking with the Spanish tour guide for about 10 minutes until I worked out that actually I couldn’t understand Pablo after all! I visited St Stephen’s Catholic Church and some other beautiful buildings in the area and then had to go back to the hostel for a nap because I was soooooooo tired. I’d had a heads up to get some cheap tickets for the opera, so after a Chinese takeaway in the afternoon, I walked to the theatre and paid €4 for a standing ticket to watch Ruksala. I really had a good spot to stand and could see the stage perfectly. It started with a live orchestra and hearing the instruments together was incredible. Then the show started. I was hoping to get into it as the story was based on The Little Mermaid, however the lady was crawling around on the stage and not swimming around battling Ursula the wicked sea witch with a Jamaican crab called Sebastian. At half time, I made a dash for it back to the train station. I heard a couple of guys busking and they seemed to have a big crowd around them so I went to stand and watch too. Half an hour later, I’d literally had the best time dancing and singing along to Rocky und Knostl’s music and even bought their CD and I don’t even have a CD player!!

Day 15: Vienna to Munich

I woke up early, had some waffles and got on the metro from Westbahnoff to Meilding and then a train to Salzburg and another one to Munich. I’d decided to go and visit my cousin and uncle and it was great to see some familiar faces. Me and my cousin went for a Starbucks and then walked up 1,093,298 steps to the top of the church at Marienplatz (OK slight exaggeration on the number of steps). The views from up there over Munich were amazing but scary as the railings are so wobbly! We went into the church and lit candles for our Grandads and then met up with my uncle. The three of us went out for a lovely Italian meal and then a coffee and then sat in front of the TV to watch ‘death at a funeral’ and ‘big mommas house!’

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Day 16: Munich – Ljubljana

I was very indecisive on where my next stop would be after Munich as I did have plans to go over to Bulgaria and Romania but after a solid half hour studying the map and potential trains, I decided to go to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had breakfast and lunch with my cousin and uncle and then caught a tram, metro and 2 trains to my next country! The trains took me through the scenic route and I really couldn’t believe my eyes, it was if it was a fake back drop and no picture could have caught how it actually was. I hardly used my phone on these journeys and instead just looked in awe on the snowcapped mountains, rivers, natural waterfalls and cute, brightly coloured houses. I was really tired when I arrived to Ljubljana, I think the overnight train ride was catching up on me so I walked till I found my hostel and went straight to sleep.

Day 17: Ljubljana

I had a long walk around the town and had a look round all of the shops until I got hungry. I had a chicken wrap for brunch and then went to an ice cream café called Mini Wave where they made ice cream from scratch and filled it with different toppings! I went back to the hostel to chill out for a bit and met a new roommate Vicky from Jersey. She’d just arrived so we decided to go out and visit the castle together which was a bit of a trek to get up to but once we made it up there, we saw views of Ljubljana and the sunset really was beautiful. We then went out for a big, fat burger at an outdoor pub and then went back to the hostel and ordered the thickest hot chocolate ever it was like a mousse but it was sooooo good!

Day 18: Ljubljana

I woke up to an empty hostel room, it was a busy changeover day and my new friend Vicky had left early hours to catch her bus to Croatia. I decided to extend my stay for an extra night so I could go to Lake Bled which I’d been told I had to go to. I caught a bus there and walked around the lake with an ice-cream. I’d bought a spinach burek (a Slovenian pastry) which Vicky had told me to try and shared it with the birds and the ducks at Lake Bled. I stayed here to watch the sunset and then made my way back to the bus. I was really happy I got to see this place as it really was like a postcard picture. Before I went back to my hostel, I bought a kinder egg and tiramisu and ate them in bed before falling asleep.

Day 19: Ljubljana- Zagreb – Split

I checked out and took a walk to Tivoli Park. During these 4 weeks, I did A LOT of walking around, more than I’d done before. Luckily, I’m a hand luggage traveller so only had my rucksack to carry round but if I did need a break from it ever (sometimes it ached my chest and back!), hostels were more than happy to keep hold of it for the day of check out. I knew this day was going to be a long day as I had to make a stop off in Zagreb on my way to Split and kill time there for a few hours. I grabbed some soup in Qubik Vegan café and took my first train. In Zagreb, it was dark, quite late and raining. Great I had a 6 hour wait and didn’t realise that they had a different currency to the Euros I had with me. I ended up sitting in some small, smoke filled pub to charge my phone until my train finally came. I was so excited when my next train arrived, another overnight train in a Harry Potter cabin again. I was really tired by the point and had to share with an old lady who decided to sniff poppers until 6am…NO SLEEP FOR ME!

Day 20: Split

I arrived to Split at 7am, it was still a little dark and I had nowhere to stay. I grabbed a croissant and apple juice from the supermarket and headed to the beach to watch the sunrise. I searched some hostels online and walked to the Beach Hostel ran by a lovely woman called Ladybird. She let me check in at 8:30am and gave me a bed to sleep in straight away after seeing how dead I probably looked! I got chatting to a group of 4 who had arrived the day before and I went for a coffee with them at a local café. They went on an excursion and I sunbathed on the beach and had some pizza at the docks. I had a chilled nice playing the guitar on the balcony and hit the hay for the night.

Day 21: Split – Ancona

I went to KRKW Waterfalls and had the best time ever! In my transfer, there was a family of 3 from India, a couple from Germany, a couple from Australia and then just me haha! It was a beautiful sunny day and I trekked so much around. I treated myself to a hot dog at the top of the waterfall and a pancake in the restaurant, can’t be bad! I got talking to everyone on the transfer back and a lovely lady shared her homemade biscuits and Bombay mix she’d brought from India and they advised me to go Lake Como in Italy on my travels. I bought an overnight ticket for a ferry to Italy and boarded on the evening. I had a meal in the restaurant and slept across 3 chairs which was actually very comfy!

Day 22: Ancona – Florence

When I arrived in Ancona, I took a look at the departure boards and decided on Florence. I checked into my hostel there which was the scariest one I had stayed in but I did have my own private room. I think I would have preferred another overnight Harry Potter cabin though! I really enjoyed walking around the shops in Florence and I took myself for a lovely Italian meal, sitting in the outside seating area of a restaurant listening to all the birds. I ordered lasagna and after a lovely chat the waiter gave me a complimentary glass of prosecco.. ‘this is the life’.. that was until a load of birds flew over and one shit on my head. Ahh well when in Florence and all that.

Day 23: Florence – Pisa

Halloween in Italy, who’d have thought? Breakfast in Florence in the sunshine was well deserved (I was feeling sorry for myself after the bird poo incident) and then I had a relaxing walk around Santa Maria Cathedral and facetimed my Granny Ida to show her where I was. I watched some live music on the street and was on my way to Pisa. After checking in, I walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa where I attempted the typical pose using nothing but a selfie which proved rather difficult and quite awkward when people were walking past! To accompany me on my walk back through the streets of Pisa with all the little treat or treaters going to the shops with their parents, I bought an ameretto and tiramisu ice cream and focaccia bread. I stayed up in the hostel common room for a bit with more snacks and then went to bed.

Day 24: Pisa – Milan – Lake Como

I decided to take the advice of the family I met in Croatia and head to Lake Como. First though, sister duties! I knew my sister wanted some make up that is not available to buy online or any other location in the whole world apart from Milan! So, I took a detour and stopped off a store called Madina. I followed my google maps 30 minutes through a park, bought the make up and walked back to the train station stopping off for a quick meal which ended up being the most expensive meal of the entire trip! When I arrived at Lake Como, I checked in to the most amazing hostel and my favourite one out of all the ones I had stayed in. I sat in the bar and then went to watch a live band they had playing that night.

Day 25: Lake Como

I met some girls that morning who were staying in my room and went for breakfast with them before they left to make their journey back to Munich. I checked out of the hostel but kept my bag there whilst I walked over to the lake to take some pictures. I decided to take the cable car up to the mountain and spend the day up there. I walked around the mountain, looked around the shops and had some lunch there too. The views of the lake were breathtaking and I’m so glad I went up to the top now. I went back to the hostel and extended my stay an extra night and took advantage of the free dinner they put on for us!

Day 26: Lake Como – Lucerne

After making the most of the free breakfast, I took connections to Lucerne, Switzerland and oh my what a difference in price. It cost me the equivalent to 10 euros for a pretzel sandwich, but you gotta pay it or you don’t eat, so I made sure every last crumb was gone!! I checked into my hostel and took a walk down to the lake. The views in any season would be amazing, but being in autumn, it had so much warmth to it and the colours were really beautiful. I spent the whole afternoon walking around the lake and to the harbor.

Day 27: Lucerne – Paris

My last stop before returning back home! I decided to end the trip nicely with visiting my Dad and his family. I’ve done Paris many times before, so it wasn’t the usual Eiffel Tower/ Disneyland trip this time. It was more of a wind down from all town walking, ice cream eating, popper sniffing and bird shitting I’d put myself through for the last month! After a 5 day stay in Paris, I flew back home to Birmingham and that was the end of my interrailing for that year!

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