Perks of Interrailing: My Adventure Through Europe.
The first thing I remember is the view from the train windows. I was always mesmerised by the beautiful views of mountains, farmlands and lakes; looking forward to the adventure ahead.
I’ll be honest, everything was last minute. This might seem like a horrible nightmare for adventure planning fanatics out there, myself included. However, I could not help but succumb to feelings of excitement at our spontaneity. We weren’t totally unprepared for before heading off. We had created a trail of how we were going to get to our destinations and how long it would take us to get there. Our original plan was to travel from Milan all the way to Croatia, but, unsurprisingly considering that it was in the middle of summer, everything in Croatia was booked full of travellers already. Hence we decided on a route that went from Milan to Oslo. This was a huge benefit for us accommodation wise as most people would bypass Northern Europe during the summer. I had also never been to any of these countries before so the excitement was brewing.
“I’m a firm believer that walking is always the best way to discover any new place.”
Our first destination was Milan, where we stayed at a friend’s house. I love staying with locals in new places as it gives you the opportunity to be guided off the tourist route and so we got to see a unique side of Milan and were immersed in Italian culture and lifestyle. We were treated to a taste of local cuisine when she made us some gnocchi with homemade pesto, an Italian speciality.
Milan itself was buzzing with culture and art. The architecture of the buildings was quite unique, complimenting the vibrant city. The gem of Milan was the Duomo cathedral, with its beautiful stain glass windows and gothic architectural design, from the rooftop you can see the breath-taking view over Milan. Another impressive part of Milan was the Navigli Canal. Colourful and movie backdrop-esque, walking along the Navigli Canal feels like stepping into the Italian countryside.
Milan was a huge contrast compared to our second destination, Luzern. Luzern is a very small city surrounded by mountains and a lake. It was also one of the easiest places to get by foot. I’m a firm believer that walking is always the best way to discover any new place. One of the great attractions of Luzern is the city wall, once used as a watchtower to protect against enemies, the view from the top is, much like the view from Milan’s Duomo cathedral, stunning.
Our next stop was Munich, which was where we stayed at a hostel called ‘The Tent’. It was literally a giant hundred-person tent just outside of Munich. At first, I was worried about this somewhat alternative accommodation but it was all worth it. Filled with travellers, the tent oozed a Bohemian atmosphere, with an outdoor eating area, cushion style floor seating and hammocks all around. The people that we stayed with were also all very loving and welcoming which made the hostel even more tranquil. Our time in Munich was distinguished by our visit Dachau Concentration Camp. Though such a place may not seem like the most cheerful visit, it is actually interesting (and important) to learn about the history of the camp and what went on during the Second World War.
After a quick stop in Hamburg, which turned out to be one of our less interesting stop offs (although the red light district of Hamburg, known as Reeperbhan, makes for a fun night-time adventure) we set out for Denmark not realising that we had to book seats on the train, we spent most of the journey sitting on the floor.
Denmark itself contrasted other parts of Europe I had explored in its rich Scandinavian tradition. We were greeted in Copenhagen’s harbour by people of all ages and walks of life freely swimming and kayaking in the waters below.
“From the mountains and lakes of Switzerland to the Scandinavian forests and seas, Europe is a beautiful place.”
Scandinavia struck me as a region of splendour. The trains were first class and luxurious, at least compared to the rough it budget travellers lifestyle we’d been employing.
Our next destination: Stockholm. Like Copenhagen, Stockholm is a relatively small city, easily explored by foot. Whilst we were there, the Kultur Festival was in full swing; a festival where organisations from around the world perform dances or songs from their homeland. And so during our time there Stockholm was alight with different nationalities and cultural influences.
And finally, we headed to Oslo. As our final destination, Oslo stood out for me. A beautiful city complimented by stunning backdrops of the Oslofjord sea and impressive mountain scenes. Although a little more expensive, Oslo is a must see.
From the mountains and lakes of Switzerland to the Scandinavian forests and seas, Europe is a beautiful place to travel. And I’ve only really touched on the surface. The urge to continue travelling is only heightened by what I’ve seen already; there’s so much still to explore.
My advice for people who are thinking of interrailing is to go for it. You can book and plan your trip down to a t if you want to, or you can follow suit and be a little bit spontaneous like us. Go and explore. Go to places you wouldn’t think of going and you might surprise yourself. As it turns out, Scandinavian summer was bliss. Just have fun with it. If you’re adventure is anything like mine you’ll see lots of beautiful places, meet some beautiful people and make some beautiful memories.