Every student dreams of having a gap year, one year of pure, unadulterated freedom…but at a cost. For those interested in seeing the world but don’t have the time or money to do it for a whole year then interrailing is the answer and is exactly what I did this Summer.
Five girls, one mission: see as much of Europe as possible in three weeks and one day. The interrailing global pass gives you unlimited travel between thirty countries for twenty two days for a current price of £273.
When the time finally came we packed our rucksacks (remember trains have no liquid restrictions) and left for Kings Cross St Pancras to catch the 6:30am Eurostar (this early train was much cheaper than the later ones at just £38) to head for our first stop: Brussels.
As we were only in Brussels for the afternoon we had a lot to squeeze in (to our bellies) in a couple of hours. We left our rucksacks in the station and walked to La Grande Place where we ate chips and waffles and drank beer! After a quick walk to see the famous statue, Manneken Pis (a must see but much smaller than you’d expect) we headed back to the station to catch a train to our next destination.
At 5:30pm we arrived in the third city we had been in that day: Amsterdam. Our hostel was situated in the museum district of Museumplien, home to the famous ‘I amsterdam’ sign. There was no time for a sit down so we headed straight out to walk through the red light district which was very different to what I had imagined but worth witnessing none the less. After grabbing a cheeky McFlurry (typical tourists) we walked back to our hostel (although taxis are reasonably cheap around Europe walking is a great way to see a lot of a city and get a good feel for the atmosphere). Over the next few days we went on a cycle and a boat tour as well as going to a floating flower market and The Heineken Experience. After three nights we left the distinct smell of Amsterdam behind and got on the train to our next stop.
Berlin is the city most similar to London…but way cooler. We spent our first evening in a club called ‘Weekend’ situated on the 12th floor of an old communist block and our second night attempting to get into a nightclub in an abandoned nuclear power station, Berghain, we failed. During the day we went on a free walking tour (great for student travellers and are offered in many cities) around the city to see famous landmarks including parts of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial.
Days six and seven of our trip were pretty hectic as we hit both Prague and Vienna. While in Prague we saw Prague Castle and watched the most anticipated astronomical clock (pre warning, it was very underwhelming) and then spent the evening exploring the city’s bars on a bar crawl organised by Drunken Monkey. We used Vienna as a much needed pit stop; we had a nice dinner, walked round a fun fair, went on a famous ferris wheel-Wiened Riesenrad and had an early night.
After a refreshing nights sleep we made our way to Budapest. On a mission for this to be a cheap holiday I booked us into a hostel where we slept outside in the garden! For £8 a night four of us slept in a gazebo and me in a hammock….pillows and blankets are provided but watch out, you might get bitten! While in Budapest we went to two thermal baths (these are worth the money as you spend the whole day there), walked to Heroes Square and saw an amazing view from the Citydeller. We also went to an assortment of bars including one on a roof top called Corvinteto.
Find out more tips about how to travel on a budget and more details of my trip in part two.