InterRailing trip through Europe
So I decided this summer that I would make more of an effort to go travelling, because next summer I’m on work placement with college, and the summer after that I’ll have (hopefully) graduated. So I asked a few friends and we decided to go interrailing around Europe. Our route started in Amsterdam, then headed East, passing through Prague, Budapest, Lake Bled in Slovenia, and finishing off in Split, Croatia, where Aer Lingus had cheap flights home! With that, myself and 2 of my friends set off almost immediately after finishing exams. It didn’t start out very well – just as we were boarding the plane, I realised I hadn’t packed my interrailing pass, which was how we were going to board the trains between the cities! However, I just got it express posted to our hostel in Amsterdam (it cost €43 so it was an expensive mistake but it was about the only disaster we had on the trip)
Our first stop was Amsterdam. Amsterdam is such a unique city with an interesting history and culture that is quite different from Ireland. We took advantage of the free walking tours, where you give a tip at the end based on how much you enjoyed the tour. This brought us all around the city, and our tour guide gave us an insight into a city which was one of the most enterprising in the world at its peak. Of course, we met our fair share of unusual and shady characters, but that was to be expected in such a large city.
Our next stop was Prague, however our train brought us through Berlin, so we decided to make a pit stop for about 5 hours. I’ve been to Berlin before so I knew which sights were worth seeing. We visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is a maze of concrete pillars, situated beside the Brandenburg gate. The temperature was around 25°C which us Irish lads weren’t used to so we sampled some of the famous German Paulaner beer to cool us down! Berlin is qute a large city so 5 hours wasn’t enough to see everything, however we squeezed a lot into our short time there and we hopped back on the train to finish off our 12 hour journey to Prague.
We arrived late into Prague after our day of travelling, so we didn’t do much. Over the next 2 days in Prague, we were blown away by how much culture is in this city. We negotiated a good deal for a hop on hop off tour over 2 days. One of the days we got a tour of Prague Cathedral. This cathedral is absolutely colossal, and its sheer size is difficult to explain in words or even show in a photo. Nevertheless, I still took a photo to try and show you its beauty. We spent 3 days in Prague, but could have spent a week just exploring everything in the city. It was one of the highlights of the trip, and I’ll definitely be venturing there again at some point.
Next stop was Budapest, where we were spending 3 nights. We got a night train from Prague to Budapest, where we shared cabins with the loudest snorer I’ve ever encountered. Luckily it didn’t affect my sleep too much, but it prevented one of the other lads from getting any sleep at all! The highlights of Budapest were the ruin bars, which are a huge part of the history of Budapest. They are very literally ruins of old houses which are converted into massive bars, with small rooms everywhere with different themes. You’ll even find a bathtub with the side cut out of it being used as a chair, so there’s plenty going on and I’d highly recommend visiting them.
We also visited the Thermal Baths in Budapest, which are large outdoors pools which are heated with natural geothermal heat, and date back hundreds of years. It’s a bit of a contrast to getting frozen in the Atlantic ocean in Ireland!
Next up was my favourite place, Lake Bled in Slovenia. I had heard a lot of raving reviews about the scenery here, so I was really looking forward to it, and it did not disappoint. We were blown away by the scenery – it’s exactly like something out of a fairytale! One other thing we learnt is that Slovenian people are among the friendliest people you’ll meet; every person we met went out of their way to help us helpless tourists find our way around In the taxi from Bled train station to our hostel, our driver gave us a complimentary tour of Bled, which was quite a change from some of the larger cities we had been to, where you could very easily be ripped off if you weren’t careful.
The main attraction to Bled is the world famous Lake Bled, which was a 5 minute walk from our hostel. The second morning, I couldn’t sleep so I walked down to the lake at 5am, and chilled there. It was one of my favourite moments of the trip, and I got one of my favourite photos of the trip there too.
Our final stop was Split in Croatia. The temperature was in the high 20’s the whole time we were there so we got fairly sunburnt. We were quite tired from all our travelling so we were happy to just relax. We headed to the island of Hvar for a day, which is a 2-hour ferry ride from Split. We were a bit disappointed by the lack of beaches in Hvar, however the scenery was absolutely incredible, so we lay out in the sun on a jetty and had a dip in the Mediterranean, which is a far cry from the freezing Atlantic ocean. For the last night of our interrailing trip, we headed to a few bars with a few guys we had met in our hostel.