Europe by train – My Inter-rail journey

Europe by train – My Inter-rail journey

For anyone looking for an alternative holiday this summer I would strongly advise on giving Inter-railing a go. Personally I didn’t have a clue what inter-railing was until my brother went five years ago with four of his mates. The photos and experiences he shared instantly made me want to give inter-railing a go.

Ever since then the idea of going inter-railing was regularly talked about within my friend groups but it wasn’t until this year that something materialised when me and two other friends from Omagh decided to set off on the 2 week long journey.

Choosing your ticket

When planning your trip there are a couple of different ticket options you can choose from, Deciding on your ticket really depends on your own personal preferences and circumstances, we however went for the cheapest ticket which allowed us to travel to 5 different countries in the space of 15 days which was perfect for us. With our ticket we were restricted to travelling on only 5 single days within the 15 day period, other tickets allow you to travel on 7 or 10 days with the most expensive ticket allowing you to travel continually for 1 whole month. Ticket prices can be found here.

 

Planning your itinerary

Personally one of the main spots I wanted to visit was Lake Bled, Slovenia ( which I for one can say is one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited, absolutely breath-taking scenes) while my mates wanted to visit Berlin and Krakow.

Prior to our departure we really did little to no planning or organising other than ordering our inter-rail ticket and booking our flights to our start location.  I know some people prefer to be a little more organised than we were, but we were three laid back, easy going lads to say the least (we pretty much winged the whole thing tbh).

On the contrary we met people that had their whole 2-4 weeks planned out ahead of themselves with train reservations, hostels, nightclubs, pub crawls and tours booked two months in advance. This organised and planned approach didn’t really appeal to any of us so we just booked our hostel and any other reservations for the next location the day before we arrived.

Our Route

JM5

Our starting location was Venice, Italy. The reason for this was simple, it was the cheapest flight we could get in and around central Europe.

Venice was a really nice spot, although very expensive we were lucky enough to get booked into a cheap hostel chain (Generator Hostels – which I would highly recommend) where we spent most our time sampling some of Italy’s famous Aperol Spritz’ for only €2.

On our first night out in Venice we met two brothers from Canada who coincidentally were staying in the same hostel as us and who we actually got to know pretty well (thanks to a bottle of vodka and a drinking game) but I will talk about these guys later.

After our two night stay in Venice, it was time to move on to location No.2 : Lake Bled. I’m sure most of you have seen or at least heard of Lake Bled and I am nearly certain that most if not all reports about this place were astonishing, and rightly so. Slovenia was one of the cheapest destinations on our trip with our hostel costing a mere €7 each.

JM3

 

From Lake Bled it was then off to Budapest, one of Europe’s most popular party hotspots. One of the best and worst part of Budapest was our hostel, which was located just above a bar which played live music up until 5am. A key highlight of the trip was when we visited the famous Budapest ‘Sparty’ (a must) which was a huge spa party in the Szechenyi thermal baths.  This is where we bumped into our Canadian friends we had met in Venice. I always thought it was so weird that out of 192 countries in the world, 50,000 odd cities and 7.5 billion people, we met the same people twice, in two different countries… what are the chances?

JM4

After Budapest we travelled further east towards Krakow, Poland. Unfortunately, it rained for most of our stay there so we didn’t get out to see much. We did however get the chance to join the hostels pub crawl which is something I would highly recommend if you are travelling by yourself as it is a great way of meeting new and interesting people and also gives the chance to visit a variety of the city’s local ‘watering holes’.

Now it was time to make our way west in the direction of Berlin, this was our longest train journey of the whole trip which required a mammoth 10-hour commute. Some people are daunted by the long commuting hours involved with inter-railing but when you’re with your friends and in the right company the hours can really fly by.

Berlin is one of the most complete city’s you probably will ever visit in my opinion, the mixture between culture, nightlife and tourist attractions is magnificent and offers you plenty to do over your 2-3 days.

Berlin nightclubs are known for being the best in the world, So obviously we had to try them out. Before entering one of the clubs we were informed by the abnormally strict bouncers that cameras were prohibited inside and that we had to put a sticker over the cameras lens on our phone, this threw us a little and we really didn’t know what to expect when we got in but I can honestly say that it was one of the best nights out I have ever had, the best of it was the place didn’t close until 8am!

This meant that we could step out of the nightclub at 7am, grab our bags at the hostel and make our way to the train station for or final train journey to Amsterdam at 9am, fresh. as. a. daisy.JM1

Upon arrival to Amsterdam Central station, this concluded our inter-railing journey. Following 2 weeks of hectic travelling and partying, our energy along with our funds were quite depleted so we used the remaining two days to just chill out and reminisce on our eventful inter-railing experience.

JM2

 

James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/

The Best Five Days!

                           ‘New York; Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of…’                                Shop to you drop, eat until you explode and sight see until your eyes ache.

                                                             28/10/17 – 02/11/17                                                                                                                7 girls, 5 days, 4 nights

When thinking of what to write about for my next blog it appeared obvious- my latest adventure…

As I boarded our direct flight from Dublin to Newark Airport- a number of things circulated in my head. I wonder what New York is like? I wonder if it really is a concrete jungle? Do they actually have yellow taxis like you see in movies? Is it as busy as people make it out to be?

YES. YES. YES. They do!

Even though it is known as ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, it is almost impossible to see New York in 5 days. Even if you lived here for 4 months I still don’t think it would be enough time to actually see it all! I seen quite a lot when I was there and I think I got about 16 hours sleep the whole time!

5 Must Do’s When In New York and 1 Don’t

AR23

  1. Shop to you Drop- Jersey Gardens

AMAZING DISCOUNTS AND AMAZING SHOPS. From Tommy Hilfiger to Ralph Lauren to Victoria Secret. This place is amazing! Just remember your passport and you get a book full of discounts and freebie coupons to shop with until your hearts content.

 

  1. Hop on, Hop off Open Top Bus Tour is best for Sightseeing

A MUST HAVE. ThAR25is bus saved our legs for 5 days! Sounds silly but so true! Buses run basically 24/7 and stop at all of the key tourist attractions, streets and landmarks. Within our package we got four tours; an Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn and Night time tour as well as entry into two main tourist attractions for $100! It also included the boat over to Statue of Liberty 🙂

Although heights are not my forte, if you would like to observe the whole city from above, the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State building are a must do! If I was to pick one of the two, I would go to the Rockefeller Center as you can see the Empire State building from it and the queues aren’t just as mad! Personally I think it is best to go at night to see                                                        the beautiful view and the millions of lights!

  1. Carlos Bakery & Stardust Diner are AMAZING!

After a fun filled day shopping at Jersey Gardens we stopped off and had a bun and coffee at Carlos Bakery. Carlos Bakery is an attraction in itself with lots of treats and tasty desserts 🙂

Stardust Diner is a must-do also! Ever wanted to feel like you were part of a Broadway show while eating breakfast, lunch or dinner? Have characters from all different Broadway shows dance on the tables and have a singsong while others serve your food on rollerblades?

  1. Tiffanys- Treat Yo Self!AR22

If you are into jewellery and think that you deserve a treat then Tiffanys is definitely a good shout! Although if you are indecisive like me, make sure the company you are with don’t mind waiting as there is an awful lot of amazing jewellery to pick from! 🙂

 

  1. The Statue of Liberty

AR26

The Statue of Liberty is a must-do! (Although hopefully you won’t have the same experience as I had) The Statue of Liberty is bigger than you could ever imagine and a prime spot to get the ultimate insta pic! We stayed on the boat and did not get off as the boat does a loop around the statue and given the short time frame that we were there for we didn’t want to waste any time! It was at the Statue of Liberty on the second last day when we knew that something was wrong…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6. 31/10/17 – Halloween Day – 3:30pm – 8 killed, 12 injured                          

We were walking alongside the harbour (shown below) looking for the boat over to the statue when the commotion started. Police, ambulances, helicopters and pedestrians frantically running on the other side of the street. As we spotted the boat we seen the Captain frantically waving and shouting ‘Everyone onboard… last boat, last boat!!!’ It was only 3:30pm… why was it the last boat of the day? Alarm bells started to ring and we started to run onto the boat… as the boat started to leave I looked at my phone- 8 messages from family and friends asking if I was ok and if I was anywhere near the trouble in New York. The attack was breaking news on Sky and was all over different news channels worldwide.AR30

Eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a truck nearly a mile down a bike path in lower Manhattan striking pedestrians, cyclists and a school bus.

After smashing into the school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the 29-year-old suspect exited the truck displaying “imitation firearms”. The suspect was shouting “Allahu Akbar”, Arabic for “God is great”, before he was then shot by police in the stomach. The suspect was arrested, and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.

Donald Trump tweeted about the incident: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”

Despite all this, I have already planned another trip back to New York at Christmas, this time to visit a cousin who is going there on placement! Next time I will definitely squeeze in a Broadway Show, a basketball game and a horse and carriage ride around Central Park 🙂

Love,

Aimee xo

Aimee Rourke is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimee-rourke-593013109/