Hello everyone that found my site whilst googling interrailing through europe! I had discovered that people are being directed to my old posts from last year. So with the benefit of hindsight, I thought I’d write this post.
I realised that a year ago, I was doing the exact same thing that you’re doing now and whilst I was absolutely clueless then, I learnt a lot from my journey and I’d like to offer some advice/experience if you happen by my blog, feeling the same way.
When I say ‘clueless’, I really meant it. I had no idea how long it would take me to get from A to B. I had no idea what I should pack. I had no idea where I wanted to go (other than I wanted to delve into eastern Europe). For inspiration I looked to organised travel tours, there are a few about that offer trips around Europe. They were a bit expensive for what I wanted but they were a great place to find a suggested route and a list of must-see places. This is how I discovered Kutna Hora and the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic (and I’m so glad I did – it’s a day trip out from Prague).
The dates I looked at for my flight out and return gave me 5 weeks and I stayed in each place (13 stops) about 3 nights each, give or take depending if I liked the place. I found this gave me time to saunter at my own pace – staying just one night for several stops doesn’t give you time to soak in a place and it just knackers you out.
If you’re interested, this is the route I took, I found it was a good pace for me:
Prague (czech republic) 3 nights
Olomouc (czech republic) 3 nights
Krakow (poland) 4 nights
Zilina (slovakia) 1 night
Kosice (slovakia) 2 nights
Budapest (hungary) 4 nights
Pecs (hungary) 1 night
Budapest (hungary) 1 night
Cluj Napoca (romania) 2 nights
Sibiu (romania) 2 nights
Brasov (romania) 3 nights
Veliko Tarnovo (bulgaria) 2 nights
Sofia (bulgaria) 4 nights
My favourite cities/areas:
Krakow and Budapest and would recommend them. Be aware that train travel is slow going through Romania and Bulgaria but it’s not so bad because the landscape is just stunning. It gives you a good amount of time for gawping.
Things I’m so glad I packed:
I bought a digital watch which I love. It has an alarm for when you need to get up to catch a train; it has a stop watch so you can time how long it takes to walk from the train station to your hostel (so you can allow yourself plenty of time for the walk to the station to catch the train); it even glows in the dark.
A torch in an accessible place in your bag. Great for when you get back late/get up early and need to tip toe around whilst others are sleeping.
3 separate waterproof bags of varying sizes and colours. This kept my bag fairly organised so I could get to various bits and bobs easily.
A phrasebook. But I’m guessing you thought of that already.
I was pretty damn scared before I went into the deep unknown (to me, at least), all alone – I guess the people that gasped at me with wide-eyed wonder saying that I was ‘just so Brave’ didn’t help to calm me. Although this did allow me to feel smug for being so Brave once I’d come back alive and (relatively*) unscathed. A friend told me that the worst bits are the going and the coming back. I found that very much true, I had loved my trip so much I didn’t want to come back to real life. In my case, the way I’d phrase it is that you start out nervous, you bumble about a bit** and come come back saying ‘that was AMAZING!’
*a little bit of being scathed adds to the journey of self discovery.
**(no adverture-er ever knew what they were doing otherwise it wouldn’t be an adventure)
Play the game whilst you’re out there, tasks become puzzles, even your own detective story. If you’ve never travelled like this before, it’s ok, you get better at it quickly. It becomes your full time job, so you have to.
I hope you have fun, wherever you go!