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I’m going off the rails on a crazy train

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Ok, I’ve said enough about volunteering and exchanges. There are some of us who like to travel in the good old-fashioned way: without any plans at all in advance. jacklondon


Lucky for us, we live in Europe, where there is so much to see in such a short distance. And how to do that? Well, ever since Jack London and his days of ‘The Road’, die-hard travellers know that the ultimate way of travelling is the train.


Green Steam Train by Simon Hart

Green Steam Train by Simon Hart

Why train rules? Because you actually get to see the beautiful scenery of Europe, it’s more environmentally-friendly than planes and unlike them, it will leave you in the middle of the city. There’s more! You always meet interesting people, you don’t have to plan ahead or book and the best part, you are free to say any time, “hey, this place looks cool! Let’s get off here!”. I wanna see you saying that on a plane!


In our modern times, following Jack London’s hobo example would be pointless, since there are now schemes that cater for the wanderers and their wanderlust.


The Interrail pass was introduced in 1973 and is run jointly by all the rail services in Europe. It is a train pass that allows unlimited travel in Europe, except for some high-speed trains. Imagine a monthly travel card, from zones 1 to …the limits of Europe! If you are not a European citizen, you can take the Eurail instead.


interrail2


You can either purchase a one-country pass from £25, or my favourite, the global pass from £129. This means that you can take trains towards any European destination. You also get a good discount on ferries everywhere, in case you’re a sea-wolf too. Jump from the train on the ferry from Spain to Italy to Greece, or around the Scandinavian countries. See all the places that you can go on this map. You will also have discounts on some hotels, museums, excursions, local buses, as well as other benefits.


traingare

If you buy the 22-days or the 1-month continuous pass, it means total freedom. You can literally go to the train station with your backpack and choose randomly the next destination. With all the people that you will meet on the train or the hostels, with the last minute decisions and the unpredictable timetables and more importantly, with all the trains that you will miss because of what you did the previous night, you never know where you might end up! However, if you are a control freak, you can try to plan everything in advance with the timetables, but, be warned, sticking to the plan will probably spoil all the fun!


If it’s your first time, take the advice of the veterans: the less you will pack the better. lonelypolanetBackpacks tend to get heavier by the minute. All you will really need is a good guide, like the Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring, and of course the little bible with all the timetables that some train stations offer.


Another tip: after covering the must-see capitals that you want to take off your check list, it’s time to go off the beaten track. Find summer fiestas in small villages, deserted beaches and countries that you are not quite sure where they are. You can find a lot of preparation tips on-line. Take a look at the facebook page, or the travellers’ weblog too.


So if you made up your mind, get your ticket, pack a few clothes, take a buddy with you (but choose wisely-you will spend a looot of time together!) and go to conquer Europe!

Author: Dimitra Rizou

dimitra.rizou@my.westminster.ac.uk

Extra Information here.

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November 6, 2008 Posted by | Dimitra - Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment