Welcome to our first-ever blog! This post contains our first three days of interrailing, and one very sick Tamsyn, who decided to catch a cold the day before setting off...
We won’t lie and say it has been completely smooth sailing the whole three days, because traveling comes with unexpected complications (mostly in the form of train delays), but as long as you have prepared properly, anything can be dealt with. However this is coming from two people who clearly did not prepare properly. Due to extenuating circumstances called procrastination, we only booked our trains a month in advance of our trip. This then leads to our first titbit of knowledge which is that, on trains where seat reservations are required, only a small amount of discounted tickets are offered to interrail pass holders. Tickets then become booked very quickly. In an effort to avoid paying full fare for our journeys because of this, a lot of the trains that we ended up booking were either at awkward times of the day or they had transfer times so short, that not even Usain Bolt could keep up with them. In addition to this, knowing what trains can be like, I doubt anyone is shocked and appalled when I reveal that some delays occurred and this, when mixed with our booking issues are where the real problems occurred.
For example, whilst our initial plan was to catch a train from 2pm and arrive in Amsterdam at 7pm, we instead had to settle for a later train which we had to pay full price for. Then on the day, after going through security at London St Pancras, our train left on time at 6pm before making wonderful time and arriving speedily in Brussels… where Eurostar promptly decided to balance it’s karma with a 1hr 30mins delay and the disappearance of our driver. This pushed our ETA to 1:30am. But then our new driver arrived to get us on the road again and before we knew it, we were in Rotterdam… where the train decided to give up entirely and kick us out. So after some ‘mild’ panicking and bickering over our best course of action, and the wait time for the singular station toilet, an Uber was ordered and we were once again off with a final arrival time of 2:30 am at our hostel StayOkay. Luckily, we had at least prepared enough to have chosen a hostel with a 24hr check-in, although it did leave us fumbling around in the dark for fear of waking up our new dorm mates.
On another note some of us- *cough* Tamsyn *cough*- may have been a little bit overprepared. However, we cannot judge as everyone knows that 14 different tops are essential when travelling Europe- and if the travel Gods catch wind that you are not carrying 2 heavy trench coats in the summer time, prepare to be smote. So one tip is that when packing imagine yourself having to run up two flights of stairs with said bag and then decide if you’re still confident with your fashion choices.
Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful city. There’s not really much we can say about Amsterdam that has not already been said. There were beautiful canals lined with flowers and trees, impressive architecture that is worthy of your Grandma’s fridge magnets as well as your Insta profile, tall and annoyingly well-dressed Dutch people gliding around the cobbled streets in a flock of bikes, and last but not least, the frequent smell of a certain something that somehow becomes more charming than when you encounter it walking through a Tesco’s car park.
After a much-needed lie-in, we rented bikes from Studio Bike just across the street from our hostel, and after a few wobbles we were off. For two people deathly afraid to cycle in London, cycling in Amsterdam was a breeze. The cycle lanes are well marked out and on every road, so are impossible to miss. You will be overtaken by the speedy Dutch, as we were at all times, but it all adds to the fun. We cycled past the Science Museum and along the port, and a tip here is too book any museum on your hit list far in advance as tickets sell out weeks in advance, particularly the Anne Frank house. We parked our bikes near the famous De 9 Straatjes (Nine Streets) and spent a couple of hours walking along the canals and taking in the views. My favourite place, and possibly Holly’s worst enemy, was the cheese museum and shop which had little baskets of sample cheese scattered throughout the shop. Although if you are lactose intolerant like Holly, it is best to keep to looking.
Back on our bikes, we cycled to the museum quarter and sat in the central park to take in the views. I feel we may have gotten a little overconfident in our biking abilities, as by the time we biked back to the hostels, our legs were burning. After grabbing some groceries from Lidl for our epic train journey the next day, we all but collapsed into our beds, sleeping through our much anticipated movie night. All in all, an incredible and rewarding day.
Once again proving the unreliability of the trains, panic ensued when our third train, which was supposed to take us from Hamburg to Frederica was cancelled, and we were left scrambling for alternatives. There was a replacement bus service however, it would have meant us missing our final train of the day, which only had a 9min transfer time. We decided to instead wait the two hours for a direct train to Copenhagen, buying a seat reservation from the ticket office.