Once upon a time… I went inter-railing

I currently have a lot of spare time. Spare time makes me reflective. Today  I have been casting my mind back to when I was 18, still living at home and just finishing college. I wanted to travel, to see the world, or at least a little part of it. I decided to go inter-railing, solo. I was excited, incredibly so. I was still young enough to think I knew everything so I wasn’t really nervous. I made myself an itinerary for the three weeks I was to be away. I would travel to Paris – Cologne – Berlin – Krakow – Vienna – Florence and Rome. This was the plan, I ended up spending more time in Krakow so I wasn’t able to see Florence.

I arrived in Paris in August, I followed the directions I had to my hostel but the nearest metro station was closed, I tried walking but I had no luck. Eventually I had to give up and pay to stay in a budget hotel where no-one spoke English, the doors didn’t lock and there was nowhere to charge my phone. I was completely alone in a new country but I was so exhausted I still slept well. The next day I went out to explore, I had visited Paris earlier in the year and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. Every street is picturesque , every corner reveals another stunning site. I spent only two days in Paris, I couldn’t see much of this incredible city and I promised myself I would return one day.

I took the train to Cologne, Germany. I had originally had little interest in staying here, but it was the most convenient place to stay between Paris and Berlin. Cologne did however turn out to be a very pretty town. The cathedral is the main attraction in Cologne and it truly is stunning. I did however feel that Cologne would be a better place to visit with others and it wasn’t ideal for solo travel. If visiting again I would definitely go with others.

The next stop was Berlin, capital city of Germany. Berlin is such an exciting and vibrant place, there is so much going on. It feels like a city where young people can really thrive. There is so much to do here, I’d really recommend taking a walking tour, especially if like me you don’t have as much time here as you might like. I also went on an organised pub crawl in the evening. It was a great night. I met lots of people and everyone was really friendly. berlin

After Berlin, it was off to Krakow. For some reason, I recall being really scared about what Krakow would be like. I soon realised that there was no reason to be worried. Everyone I met in Krakow was very friendly and it felt like a really safe place to be. I stayed in a party hostel in mixed sex rooms of 10, I was a little wary of this. It ended up being my favourite place from the whole trip. The history is so interesting here, and you have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz which is a really difficult day but so worthwhile. It is a beautiful city, that also has a great nightlife. I cannot recommend Krakow highly enough!

From Krakow I took the overnight train to Vienna. I arrived in Vienna, full of the cold and exhausted. I found my hostel, no-one in my room seemed chatty and I was disheartened. I had a look round the city centre. On reflection, it is a beautiful city but at the time I was not appreciative of the architecture. My second day I met two American girls who took pity on me and took me with them to picnic and drink wine by the river. It was a really good day and I was glad to have finally met some friendly travellers in Vienna.

The last stop on my trip was Rome, the eternal city. An incredibly beautiful city. However, Rome was not a good experience for me. In my first hour in the city, my passport, camera and all of my money was stolen. I walked the streets in tears, searching for someone who could help me find the police station. Eventually I found two Americans walking their dog who helped me, they drove me to the British embassy, and to the police station and to my hostel which was really far from the centre. They gave me 60 euros, as I wouldn’t be able to get money from home until the following day. I will never be able to explain how grateful I am for what they did.

Overall, I had an incredible time inter-railing and I would highly recommend it to anyone either solo or as a group. I would also say make sure you never let go of your camera and always keep money and your passport in your money belt! But my opinion when it comes to travel is usually always the same: if you can go, you should go.

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