Tim Eustace is re-telling his summer interrail adventure from Oslo to Venice. This is the second blog of a four part series.
The first nine days have already been incredible. Next on the agenda are: Berlin, Prague and Bratislava. Time seems to be racing already and I am becoming ever grateful knowing that the travel is largely sorted. We reserved our tickets to Berlin early as this was quite a lengthy section of our journey and we wanted to go on a specific route. The reservation fees were small and one of my worries before the trip was whether or not the trains would be full – this has not been an issue at all and making the reservations in the stations has been simple. I have been delighted by the cleanliness and speed of the train services so far – we’ve even lucked out on private cabins twice! Train travel in Europe is fast, clean and always on time. However, nothing can prepare you for the spectacular moment when your train drives onto a ferry! If you take the speedy route from Copenhagen – Berlin, this is how you get there. Just like a car, everybody is unloaded and you have forty minutes to stroll around the decks before returning to your seats on the train – a surreal and wonderful experience.
Berlin is an historical education and it is fascinating. After four days of tours and exhibits about WW2 and the Cold War, I’m left wondering what else there is of the city that isn’t affected by conflict. I feel bad that I haven’t searched out more than this but the Berlin Wall is a fascinating and unmissable scar on the face of Berlin and much seems to stem from this.
I am carrying a book with me, Europe on a Shoestring, and now I am thinking that I could publish part two myself! My nervous spending habits are starting to have their advantages as we are searching out ways to spend the daily budget wisely. This has meant that we have found some real culinary treasures and I’m starting to wonder if I will ever want to pay a ‘restaurant’ price for a meal again – the street food has been amazing! And, when your Airbnb host says that she knows a cheap little café where you can get a ‘schnitzel the size of your head’, you know it is something you need to check out. (note – it was more like two heads!) The cashless experiment has, however, spectacularly failed. Unfortunately, Germany are way behind the time on contactless payments and that emergency €50 is long since gone. I didn’t get past the train station before the coffee shop had shaken their head at my plastic attempts – this was a trend that would continue from here on in.
On the journeys, our trains have been amazing and some of the views along the way have been breathtaking. I highly recommend the trip from Berlin to Prague – it is a picture-postcard journey from start to finish. If we hadn’t left so late, the alluring pull of Dresden from the train would have certainly seen us hop off; alas, you can’t do it all! This is something I have had to come to accept. We have stopped chasing the tourist routes and started crafting our own journey. This has led to some amazing experiences: Church of our Saviour tower, Copenhagen; breakfast at the top of the Reichstag; the Wallenstein Palace gardens at the foot of Prague castle; and lastly, the ‘body’ exhibition in Bratislava. I don’t think we’d have had time, or maybe even thought of visiting some of these places if we’d just followed the typical top city experiences.
I wonder what other unexpected sights await us on the next leg. I have settled quite well into this life and moving from place to place has become second nature almost. When I leave a city unfinished I’m now thinking about when I will return rather than lamenting at missed sights. You can’t do it all, after all but you can always return.
My journey, however, continues and Hungary is beckoning. I hold such high hopes for Budapest and I cannot wait to get there. Luckily, it is just a short hop on the train from Bratislava…
Next stop: Budapest – and a solution to the ‘Budapest Problem’.
You can see Tim’s fully planned trip and take inspiration for your own trip here.