Tuesday, 10 April 2012

InterRailing

For those who don't know what this is, it's travelling around Europe on a single train ticket. This year interailing is celebrating it's 40th year since starting in 1972. At that time it was to give under 21 year olds the chance to explore these countries, it moved up to 26 years old and is now available for anyone of adult age. If you can manage it I would recommend it as a great way to explore many European countries and have an almighty fine holiday while doing so.

I have done it twice, both many many years ago during the under 26 years age limit. The first time we went for 2 weeks, the second for 2 months, tickets are usually bought on a monthly basis. Both times I went with my best friend.

I remember the second time we went, we started in Brussels, Belgium and although it was June it was cold and pouring with rain, I have a hilarious pic of us sat with our raincoats done up, hoods up so all you could see of us were our eyes. We decided we wanted SUN. So we went straight back to the train station and went south ending up in Paris. We had a nice day wandering around the city but there wasn't enough of that sun so went back to the station that evening, wanting to go to the south of France. The next train south was next morning at 6am so we had a little sleep in a waiting room with several other interailers. The seats meant for one person each were far too uncomfortable so we all slept on the floor.

We went to Beziers, and stayed in a hostel for a day or two, sweet town, still not enough sun so went on to Spain. Madrid, in fact, where by now it was hot.Then to Seville, which I loved though there is a park there I would recommend young girls to stay out of if they don't like being followed by men doing unmentionables, this was not an isolated man but one of several there, perhaps it has a reputation. Aside from that park I did love Seville and It's ever since been on my list of towns to return to. Very very hot.

After a few days. we went down to Portugal, to Lisbon. One of the things about travelling when we did was that we saw places before catastrophes occurred. In this case before the last huge earthquake which devastated the Old Quarter, I would not want to return as it would be upsetting to see the difference though I believe much is still there.

We moved from town to town and country to country meeting so many wonderful people, mostly other interailers like ourselves. Tall blond Swedes showing off their strength by swinging one the luggage racks by their arms, jocular Aussies, Americans who often seemed awed by the 'cramped spaces' of European cities so different from their larger open spaces. We also met up with several Yugoslavians sharing a train compartment to sleep in one night. I often wonder if those young men are still alive or if anything happened to them after the war which happened after we interailed there. We went while it was still the one country, before the war and divide and dreadful killing.

One country we didn't visit was Turkey. We wanted to but were a bit wary. Every set of interailers we met who had been gave us a different story, one set would say, Yes go, it's safe the people are lovely, the next set would say don't go there, we had all our money and passports stolen. This went on and on as we got closer, one set saying go, the next with some horror story, so we thought in the end we'd not go and I've since always wanted to visit - maybe next year. My friend did and loved it there.

So many countries, so many stories, but this is meant to be a short blog and I've written too much already so will stop. But please do go if you can. Nowadays people use all their modern gadgetry to decide where to go and where to sleep. In my day (I sound so old, lol) everyone took their chances, turning up at the station and just taking the next train out to wherever it took us, sleeping on floors, ferries under the stars , beaches. It does sound a little sterile nowadays, but in reality I'm sure there's still lots of the magic in interailing.

5 comments:

Journaling Woman said...

I did know what this is. My aunt did this years ago and I was a bit jealous.

Teresa

Jenny said...

What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing.

Stephen Tremp said...

Sounds like something I would do in my younger days. Now I need a cushy bed, a TV, and Internet access.

Ellen Brickley said...

Thanks for sharing this :) I went interrailing with a friend when I was 24 and we had fantastic adventures. I'm 28 now but can't wait to go again - I'm tentatively planning a big interrailling trip for the summer I turn 30. And you managed to hit one of my favourite cities - I love Madrid!

DayDreamer said...

Journaling Woman, I bet your Aunt loved it.
Jenny, it was an adventure :)
Stephen, that made me laugh, but I think I wouldn't want to rough it quite so much now.
Ellen, I am so envious, despite what I said to Stephen. Don't let it be tentative - do it and have a fantastic time! :)