Karin and Hanna’s Interrail Trip
Karin and Hannas Interrail Trip
We started our journey on separate trains, from separate destinations in Sweden, and met in Malmö, where we took the train over to Copenhagen. There it was a long, tough wait for the night bus to Amsterdam. We locked our bags and strolled around along a canal. Looking for a very ordinary cafe, which was a difficult task since all that was there were coffee shops. In the end we got tired and bought coffee with us from a grocery store, but it was also hard to find. When we got back to the station, we got a real shock. The cupboard we locked in all the bags, big and small, inside was open and empty. Thankfully there was a staff member who had seen it unlocked and put our bags behind the counter. Otherwise we would have had to turn around already on the first day! Cut we learned to be more accurate. The little we saw of Copenhagen was fine, but we just wanted to go ahead and start the train loop really.
12 hours later we rolled into the station in Amsterdam. We were so hungry that we ran into the nearest Press Bureau-like shop, which was enough for breakfast. Then took a tram to Vondelpark, where our hostel was located. Google maps led us a bit wrong, but we eventually found it. The first thing we did when we checked in was to rent bikes. Then we cycled around the canals, had a pancake-lunch, after a tip from a Dutch friend that it is a “must” in Amsterdam. We saw on the map that we were close to Anne Frank’s house, but no matter how much we cycled back and forth we did not find it. When we got back to our dorm, we heard some Brits talk about having been there… Still a mystery.
After a dinner at the hostel, we cycled around, in the beautiful Vondelpark and then we did not find out again from the park. We had to make the detour back to the hostel.
Name: Karin and Hanna
We are two friends who discovered the great thing about interrailing and seeing the world. In addition to travel, we like nature, so our future trips will be characterized by it.
The next morning, we took the train to Paris. The city we heard so much about, “falling in love with Paris”, that sort of thing. Arriving at the hostel we discovered that it was not the best choice to stay there but we saw that they had kitchens at least. Four long stairs up, without a lift, resulted in a new mantra: “one more staircase”. There was no shower on our floor either. After we had gotten groceries and started cooking, we discovered that the kitchen had no stove. We were disappointed and, we had to rethink our dinner, and it ended up with a cold dinner, but it still tasted good. It would then become our standard food.
We saw the Sacré-Coeur sights with great views, Notre Dame and then the only thing we thought was cool with Paris; the Eiffel Tower. We even returned to it in the evening, but it started to rain then. No, Paris didn’t suit us at all. It felt a little dirty and not very romantic. Not at all what we expected, so, we left Paris after two nights, disappointed.
We got on the train towards Zermatt in Switzerland, with train changes in Lausanne and Visp (pronounced [fisp]). The road there was very nice, we went along Lake Geneva, among other things. The train from Visp to Zermatt was awesome because it was so small, with stop buttons and everything. The conductor was from the Netherlands and impressed us with being able to speak a little Swedish. Once in Zermatt, we took the smallest bus we saw, an electric bus. Zermatt is a car-free city. We stayed at the Youth Hostel and it was really good. In Zermatt we stayed three nights and it was so nice to leave big cities and get up in the mountains to hike.
The first day we walked up to Sunnegga. It was uphill from the first step, never a meter flat. It was heavy, so there were many breaks when we are not so used, and high altitude, which means thinner air. After about 2.5 hours we were up and had lunch. The view from there was magnificent. The Matterhorn, the famous “Toblerone mountain”, rose proudly over the landscape. The pictures we took became powerful and we just wanted to stay forever. It was so beautiful. When we went down, we realized that it can be difficult to walk down just as well, that it felt in the thigh, wadding and butt muscles. But it only took about an hour to go all the way down.
Hiking day two we walked up to Edelweiss. We had a hard time finding the footpath from the village, but we thought we had found it. We had to climb a log over a rapid and then go over a meadow before we came on the trail again, but this winding road made us see a marmot! Quietly, it sat on a large rock, until it was scared and ran away. It felt awesome to see. The road up was steep and angular, meandered up next to a waterfall. We just got away from the rain and when we got up, we ate homemade hash browns, a Swiss home-cooked food. It was good, but became very powerful. Then we dressed properly and went down in the rain. It was terribly hard for the legs, it felt like they would fold. We each bought souvenirs before returning to the hostel. There we rested for a while before we had dinner. The usual cold dinner. Last night in Zermatt which felt both sad and exciting.
The next morning, we took the famous Glacier Express to Sankt Moritz. It was very beautiful, but at the same time such a disappointment, in many ways. The journey took eight hours and when we finally arrived at the famous viaduct, it was over as fast as it arrived. Our high expectations on the Glacier Express, unfortunately, were not met at all. At the station in Sankt Moritz, we had to rush to our next train, which would take us to Ospizio Bernina, a place we googled for not getting “to Italy” the same day, but which we subsequently kept as one of the favorite places. The train ride there was absolutely amazing. We were completely ourselves (except the driver) on the small, small train, with incredible views. At a station, a number of timber wagons were switched on. The best part was that you could pull down the windows and stick out your head, it felt so lively. Once in front, we got upgraded rooms and again tested Swiss food for dinner, which was good.
The next day the views continued to spread outside the train window, on the way down to Tirano in Italy. The journey continued via Milan to the final destination of Venice. That’s where our first glitch came. We blindly trusted the Rail Planner app, something we learned was a bit silly. So, we had to hop on a commuter train again, even though the train we sat on had taken us where we were going… but we arrived, took the boat out to the island where our hostel was on. To bring down the cost, we had booked a 16-bed room, which was interesting to have done, but which we might not do again. It was sweaty and hot.
But Venice was a cool city, built on water and using only boats as a means of transport, as most people know. We especially liked the district of Burano, where it was Venice as you see in the picture, with small canals, bridges and very colorful houses. When we took the boat back to the more central part, we mostly roamed around, found the right cheap linen clothes and were happy about it. Worth knowing about Venice is also that picnics are not allowed everywhere, but only in designated areas. So, we were a little nervous that we were wrong when we sat down at a canal and had dinner.
In the evening we were thinking of strolling around and finding a coffee / tea cafe, but our phones had no battery, so we left them at the hostel. The cozy evening did not get so cozy as we got lost in the dark. There were narrow alleys everywhere we went, becoming more and more afraid. We regretted so much that we left the mobiles. Finally, we met our rescuers in need who helped us and the relief when we found the boats and then stepped inside the doors of the hostel was huge.
After a day where we mostly walked around and got boats around town, we finally sat down and waited for the bus that would take us to Croatia. There were many who were going with different buses and all buses were late, so it was a slightly chaotic atmosphere. But almost an hour after the scheduled departure, the bus left Venice. In the middle of the night they woke us up for passport control and it was also the thunderstorms of the world, but otherwise we slept okay. Once in Šibenik we struggled up a hill until we came to what we thought was a hostel, but which was rather a rented upper part of a house. But it worked fine anyway, however, we were missing a kitchen, again.
In Šibenik we bathed a lot and took it most calmly, which was very much needed. We stayed for four nights, which was the longest stop of the trip.
One of the days we took a full day to Krka National Park, which is why we went to that part of Croatia. We chose to take a local bus, which was clearly cheaper, but the system for disembarkation was a bit mysterious, the roads winding and the bus driver drove scary fast. When we arrived we took the boat to the waterfalls. We went around in the national park and saw a lot of small and larger waterfalls, which was so cool. It was so hot though. We saw people swimming, but did not dare ourselves when there were signs about it being forbidden, but when we were back at the largest one, we realized that it was only in the winter months… So, we jumped into the water and swam in front of the waterfalls. It was so powerful and a real wow feeling. We chose to walk the five miles back to the entrance and took the opportunity to swim again in a river on the road. Then it was a long wait for the bus back when apparently there was only one bus and it left at five. We fell asleep for a while and then it was the oldest bus we ever saw that drove us back.
Another of the days was Hanna’s birthday! We celebrated it with balloons and cake in the room and dinner at a restaurant in the old part of town, which we snapped up as tips on the bus home from Krka. It was called Nostalgia and was incredibly good food for not too much money. Highly recommended if you are in Šibenik!
There we also decided to redo the entire remaining part of the trip. We felt that we were tired of big cities and wanted to see more nature. We sat for hours with google, the Rail Planner app and the two hostel apps we used. Finally, we were satisfied with our new route.
We then took a bus to Zagreb, since no bus from Šibenik to Split suited the train from there. When the bus arrived, the sky opened, and we were kindly allowed to walk in the pouring rain to the train station. We were soaking wet and not very happy about having to wait there for four hours, without benches, with pay toilet and strange people. We searched the app feverishly, but no other trains where we would go. Finally, we asked in an information desk, whereupon she said in somewhat bad english that we could take a train that went in two minutes and pointed to a train that was inside the platform closest. We ran there and it was correct. Again, the app had confused us, the one we previously trusted so blindly. Satisfied we went on. On the way there was passport control, where they were so hard that they even checked under the seats for people, and we got to show the passports twice. Hours later, we arrived in Bled, Slovenia. After we could finally cook (pasta we bought in Paris…) we went for a walk around the lake in Bled and saw the iconic castle in the middle of the lake. It was about what we saw of the small town of Bled.
The next day we went on to Lake Bohinj, another beautiful lake in Slovenia. As we waited for the bus from the train station, we had to wait a long time. The sign was incomprehensible to us who could not speak the language, but we asked at the adjacent bakery. Apparently, the bus did not leave until two hours later. So, we had to wait, took the opportunity to eat some Slovenian lunch, which, sorry to say, was very flavourless. When the bus finally came, it just passed, and the next bus left an hour later. Finally, we got on a bus and went to Bohinj, Pod Voglom which was called where the hostel was located. A mediocre impression of the hostel, but the lake was beautiful. The surrounding mountains and the lake were perfectly clear. On the other hand, we signed up for rafting the following day and we were so excited!
The rafting was so much fun! An adventure and so wonderful. We also bathed and swung ourselves in the icy water from a swing in the middle of the tour. It was really fun and something that greatly enhanced the experience of Bohinj.
Then we went to a destination we, after the googling in Croatia, were so expectant of. Northern Slovakia, up in the Tatra Mountains, in a hostel called The Ginger Monkey and located in Ždiar. The road there was a little rocky and warm, so we arrived late after a travel day of about 14 hours. But it felt so worth it. There was a big bunch around the table in the kitchen when we arrived and the first thing they asked us was if we wanted to join the “hike” the day after. Somewhat surprised and very tired we said that we would think about the matter. The hike would be eight hours long and we were unsure if we would be able to do it, besides keeping their pace, maybe they were very experienced? But the morning came, and we couldn’t resist the temptation, so we followed. And we were happy with it afterwards!
It started fairly flat and then went up, up and up. We were in good spirits, but in the end, it was really hard. Thankfully we were not alone in thinking it was hard and the group from the hostel turned out to be a nice and caring group to hike with, with seven different nationalities. We stopped every now and then to wait everyone in, drink water and catch our breath. Filled with energy of mixed variety on the way up, most shared with us and we got to test from salty cheese (not for us) to some kind of chocolate biscuits with rice. Our lunch became moldy nutella sandwiches, which we discovered a little too late, but it went well anyway. We filled up our water in a smaller waterfall and walked on. The landscape spread more and more, but so did the clouds. It started to rain a little and we were pretty high up.
On the coolest part of the hike, we were at the top of the trail, where there were magnificent landscapes in all weathers, fantastic views. The clouds obscured the view somewhat, but we still saw far (which the pictures do not quite do justice). Then we split up and followed the group that was going to the green lake. The road there was much easier, as it was mostly downhill. The lake turned out to be small, but quite emerald green. A Brazilian woman in our group marveled at how beautiful the mallard ducks swimming around were. Karin didn’t really have the heart to say that such things are everywhere in Sweden … Maybe you get a little blind from all the beauty when you see it every day.
Nine hours later we were waiting for the bus home to Ždiar and The ginger monkey. There, the “pizza party” was waiting in the evening down in the village. Did not stay late for us, but instead packed for departure. Then it became a half football game in the ongoing World Cup for at least Karin’s part with the others, before the bed called.
The next day we traveled to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The hostel had really large dormitories with high ceilings. It was nice, they even had a roof terrace and kitchen! We happily cooked food there after shopping a little. The next day was our full day in Prague, we started by washing at a laundromat or whatever it may be called, when the hostel did not have the facilities. Then we had a sudden desire to shop a little, which we hardly did during the journey. So, we did. It is a bit like the trip in general, we have done what we wanted to do, not gone to a museum that we may not have thought was fun but listened to what exactly we like and did just that! We also thought that Prague is one such city that we would like to go back to, for example, on a weekend, then we can see the sights then, because that was what we were able to do at that time. It was about what we saw of Prague, the area closest to the hostel. But we liked the city!
Then we took the train to the last stop of the trip; Berlin. Spent the evening looking for the remnants of the Berlin Wall, which went like this. Then we wished we did some research actually… But we found a little and were happy with it. Ran around to some shops in closing day, before we cooked dinner. Ate it together with a girl from Canada who also stayed at the hostel and got us an interesting chat. The same thing about Prague we thought about Berlin, that we will surely come back and see more. For already the day after, our last day started on this train loop. We traveled via Hamburg and Fredericia to Copenhagen. There we were going in different directions and had to say goodbye. After 24 days together around the clock, it was sad and strange. But what a fantastic trip we experienced together!
Some quick tips between two train hitches:
The route we traveled by local train between Sankt Moritz and Tirano is the same route as Bernina express goes, but with Interrail it is free and at least as nice if not finer, by local train.
Do exactly what YOU want. If you can’t see all the sights, see something else. It’s YOUR experience and YOUR journey!
Where will you go next?
Find your new favourite place.
Discover Europe by train