A tale of interrailing

By Annabel Harvey

During the summer of 2015, my head wasn’t in the best of places. As any university student knows, the summer holidays are long- and if you don’t keep yourself busy, sitting at home on your own all day can make anyone succumb to cabin fever.

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As I love travelling, and I’d managed to save some money left over from my grant (thank you, student finance), I began to research inter railing.

The idea is if you’re a student, you pay 120 pounds for an interrail ticket that lets you travel to six different places within ten days. The route is entirely up to you. I recruited my best friend, Hannah, to come with me. We’ve never been the best at planning trips, although we had been on holiday to Tenerife together in 2013 and shared the same tent at Leeds Festival that year too. So one weekend, we sat down to plan the route and book the hostels. Below is a brief itinerary of our travels.

22nd August 2015.

Travel to Brussels from London via coach and Euro tunnel. (This took a looooong time). Look awful trudging around Brussels city centre at 6am with no idea where you’re going. Have some creeps shout at you. Wonder what the creeps would think if they got anywhere near you and realised the tramp down the road probably smells better right now.

23rd August 2015.

Get to the train station, have an absolute meltdown about where to get on the train, if we’ll be able to sit down, and what the hell do we do if there’s no plugs for our phones. (There weren’t on ANY of the trains). Travel to Amsterdam, approximately four hours. Listen to Hannah whinge about the weight of her backpack. (Bitch I’m carrying the same amount). Cry of happiness when you reach your amazing BnB that you could happily live in.

25th August 2015.

Travel to Berlin. This took six hours, the longest out of all our journeys. Walk into the wrong hostel, get directed by the receptionist and still have no clue where the hell you’re going. Get Hannah to look on Google maps. (Good Hannah). Catch a bus to the hostel, and still get completely lost and end up wandering around a dodgy area of Berlin. Eventually find the hostel, which we’re lucky enough to share with an awesome girl from Australia (Kahli) and awesome girl from America (Savanna). Have a conversation about gun culture in the UK (Savanna is shocked to learn it doesn’t exist).

28th August 2015

Travel to Prague. Absolutely freak out when its 100 koruna for a metro ticket to the hotel. Get Hannah to check how much 100 koruna is in English money on Google currency. (Turns out its only 2.97). Get off at the wrong metro stop and walk around for ages. See about twelve McDonalds. Finally get to your hostel where a man is hanging out with a snake on the street outside. Meet the cat in the hostel called Wifi. Go to the bar in the hostel, where you’ve been promised a free drink at happy hour. Tell the barman who’s never heard of the free drink at happy hour that he’s wrong. Get a free beer, listen to Hannah whinge that its beer and she hates beer. Sit with the bar staff, who unbeknown to us are about to do a drug deal with a supermodel from Bosnia. Listen to the model (who’s definitely taken a load of coke) bang on about her country and show us her modelling portfolio. Have her ask us our names about seven times. Try and escape from the model, but she’s latched on to Hannah, so leave Hannah to deal with it and befriend the American bar maid who sounds like Sookie from true blood.

30th August 2015

Travel to Vienna.

Nearly die in Vienna due to your own inability to judge how much alcohol you can handle.

1st September 2015

Travel to Budapest. This is the shortest of our journeys, only taking around two hours. Throw up on the train multiple times due to the alcohol antics of night before. Get to Budapest and realise you’re still in too much of a state to eat anything, so fall asleep in the hostel cradling a carton of apple juice.

4th September 2015.

Fly home. Ryan air, of course.

The first thing you need to consider is who you’re travelling with. Luckily, me and Hannah are like sisters, and I don’t mean that in a soppy way- she’d tell me if I was being a brat and I’d- well, actually, she never really did anything wrong. She found most of the hostels and dealt with me stropping every time I thought we were lost (sorry Hannah). I’d definitely say the trip could make or break a friend group, because you’ve got to be able to compromise and let someone choose what you’re going to do even if you’re not really that fussed.

Because there was only two of us, I was worried about the safety of the trip and what it would be like walking around at night in the different cities. Most of the time felt fine, it was usually always busy, but it is something you need to think about.

Also, take a BUMBAG. And sensible shoes, obviously.

If you’re going to drink alcohol, I don’t really have any advice for you, other than I’ve never been able to think of gin in the same way, as it just tastes like death due to the night in Vienna. The same night, we were watching Frank Sinatra in concert on a huge screen in a public park (I cried a little bit, I’m blaming the gin) and I now also associate Frank Sinatra with death.

I can’t tell you what my favourite memory of the trip was- probably just getting to wake up every day with my best friend. Sure, we saw a lot of amazing cities, some breath taking architecture and views from tops of churches and castles I’ll never forget. But I think it’s the little things that happened with the people we met I’ll remember most- from the man in Berlin who forced me to dance the salsa, to the two men who had to move away from us in the hostel reception due to me throwing up in a shopping bag.

So I’d definitely recommend interrailing for any student- you’ll have a blast.

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