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Europe By Train – Part I

Recently a friend of 365Tickets underwent an epic trip across Europe by train, and upon his return wrote a journal, which he has generously allowed us to share…

“What an incredible journey the past 18 days have been. Accumulating around 4000 kilometres of train tracks, spending numerous hours inside a metal box hurtling at 100+ kmph across 10 countries and meeting so many new people as well as seeing a variety of cultures and sights. Here is the story of my Inter-rail journey.

Paris

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Our route began by taking a boat to Saint Malo from Jersey, staying the night there before moving onto Paris first thing the next morning. Bursting with excitement and anticipation at the adventure that lay ahead of us, up we got, our bags at the ready as we set forward on our first train ride. A 3.5 hour journey to Paris’ Gare Montparnasse!

Eagerly we hopped off the train and stumbled through the train station organising our next train and meeting our first of many odd characters on this trip, a French man screaming profanities and throwing his toys out of the pram, who knows why. All three of us looked at each other and thought what have we got ourselves into. Welcome to France!

As we exited the grand old station we were greeted by the Montparnasse. A tall structure famous for its brilliant 360 degree views of all of Paris. Thanks to 365 Tickets we arranged access to the building and its breathtaking view of Paris and definitely a must on the to do list should anyone visit.

The rest of the day consisted of walking the length of the city with our backpacks on. With little direction we managed to stumble upon all the great sights of Paris, Notre Dam, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe and The Sacre Couer. All of which were astounding to see. Each of which provided us with that added excitement to keep walking despite our legs thinking otherwise… Averaging 15000 steps on the first day was a sign of things to come.

As we neared the end of the day we easily sorted out accommodation at a cheap hotel through the use of the many apps available, just a few clicks and we had a place to sleep.

Fancy a visit to Paris? Click here for ideas on what to see.

Next stop Amsterdam…

Amsterdam

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Getting to Amsterdam proved a bit more difficult than we first anticipated. As we decided to do this trip without much planning, all direct trains were fully booked for inter-rail passes. So we had to re-direct our route via Lille and Brussels finally arriving in Amsterdam at 4pm.

As we headed to our Hostel we had pre-booked we didn’t know what to expect. The first thing we noticed was to watch out for the Trams and Bikes they are everywhere and will not stop. Having to cross 3 lanes of traffic at times was hard to get used to.

We arrived to a room two floors up and with stairs so steep they were essentially ladders. The room was on a slant and the roof was lower than me. But we had three beds and a roof so we were happy.

After dropping our things we headed out for food and happened to meet a Dutch guy named Vardie who showed us around the city. We stumbled upon the Beach Volleyball world championships which were taking place, checked out Dam Square and the famous Red Light District.

Amsterdam is such a surreal place, with its relaxed rules and freedom this seemed to translate into the way the Dutch live and act. Everyone is very friendly and being by the canals has a somewhat peaceful feel about it. With large markets scattered around the city its always bubbling with life and enthusiasm. All in all it was probably one of the best places we went to.

A massive hub for backpackers and travellers of all ages and nationalities, Amsterdam is a great place to meet new people. IAMSTERDAM.

Berlin

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As we said goodbye to Amsterdam we took on our first overnight train to Berlin. An 8 hour journey. So far we had experienced nice, comfortable and air conditioned trains… But not this one. Because we didn’t pre book in advance, we were just given seats rather than the comfort of cabin beds. We found out during this trip that we would try avoid this happening again. The small carriage was filled with people, crying babies and the heat was ruthless. We had to take it in turns to put our heads out of the small window for the fresh air.

We finally arrived at HBF Berlin Station at 4am. Where we slept before getting woken up by security and hushed along as the station was opening.

Feeling slightly drained we walked across the way to check out The Reichstag. A grand old monument of a building built in 1894 and is used as the Parliament building of the German Empire.

Finally we checked the timings of our next train to Prague and headed off to hostel number 3 of the trip.

After checking out at 11am the following morning, we headed for the train station via some of the popular landmarks of Berlin. This comprised of the Brandenburg gate, the Auschwitz memorial which was very interesting and lastly the Berlin wall. All of which provided a different kind of element of intrigue.

Prague here we come”

Read Part II for more adventures in Prague, Budapest, Croatia and More…

Kate Quigley

Kate Quigley Travel Writer