After my change at Brussels, I arrived in Lille – my final city! As I stepped out of the station, I was greeted with the sight of the Euro 2016 Lille fan zone being deconstructed, which wasn’t a particularly pretty sight. However, once I’d made it past that, the views did get better. Cobbled streets, boulangeries, cafes and all sorts appeared as I snaked my way through the streets towards my hostel. After checking in and sorting myself out, I had a bit of a wander. It was strange to think that this was my last city, especially as I’ve been travelling around for a month now, but that’s the way these things go!
Back in Cologne I was informed by Simon (the Australian chap) that Lille had a free zoo in their main park. Thinking this was too good to be true (I mean, free?) the next morning I headed there and found that he was in fact telling the truth. With zebra, pelicans and alpacas among their animals, I was pretty impressed and I spent a fair while there. However, I hadn’t come to Lille just to see the animals, so I made sure to keep exploring. This involved strolling around the citadel, a massive 17th century fortress in the north of Lille, which apparently is still in use today. The thing was huge, so that involved a fair bit of sitting down as well – after a month of walking and travelling my legs are exhausted!
I spent some time strolling around the rest of the city, getting lost every now and then. At one point I’m fairly certain I came across a Pokemon Go gathering in one of the parks. How else could you explain a lot of people with smartphones out and Pikachu onesies? Soon enough though, it was time for dinner. I’ve done a fair bit of cooking on this trip to save money (especially in Western Europe), but I figured that as it was my last night I’d treat myself. I’d passed by a pizza place when going to and from the hostel, which looked like it had space in the evening, so I headed there. Taking a seat, I was informed that this wasn’t an ordinary pizza place. Instead of a usual menu, you were given a piece of paper which had a series of topping options. You then chose which base, toppings and cheeses you wanted and it was made to order. I kept it pretty safe, especially as everything was in French (the last time I actively learnt the language was in year 9). It arrived quickly, but unfortunately I forgot to grab a picture of it – I was just too hungry! After dinner I went for a wander around the city and then returned back to the hostel bar for a few French beers.
After waking this morning I, for the final time, packed my bag and checked out. To return to England, I was getting the Eurostar in the afternoon so I had some time to kill. Wandering around the Sunday markets and taking in all the smells and sounds, along with exploring the citadel some more served that purpose. Now, I know that the Eurostar isn’t included on the Interrail pass, but after getting from Romania to here via trains, I wasn’t going to cheat on the last bit of the journey and get a plane!
After checking into the Eurostar, sitting around for a bit and eventually getting on the train, I was on the way to England. I arrived at St Pancras fairly quickly and then it was time for the final train – my local one back home. Funnily enough, it was this one that turned out to be the most cramped one of my journey! With my bag I squeezed in between some disgruntled passengers, quietly apologising for taking up so much space. There’s nothing like a little bit of passive-aggression on a British train is there? Soon enough though, I was home.
Bucharest to a small English town, all done by rail – one hell of a journey!