Wow this has been a long time coming – I haven’t blogged in what feels like forever so now it’s time for the first blog in a series of “travelling” blog posts. I’ll start with a blog about my interrailing – a 3-week adventure through Europe with my one and only university bezzie Naomi.
On June 8th I got the train up to Walton on Thames to spend the night with my lovely Auntie and cousins and they then drove me to Heathrow airport the following day where I flew to Lisbon. I met Naomi in Lisbon in the luggage hall (oh so glam) and we got an Uber to our hostel!! The hostel was amazing; it was called Sunset Destination and has actually been classed as the third best hostel in the world, and totally justifiably. A hostel with a rooftop bar, a rooftop pool, really friendly and approachable staff, great rooms, great guests and a really sociable environment. We decided to have a “chilled” night upon arrival at the hostel as we didn’t arrive there until 11pm but as soon as the question “do you want a shot of tequila?” was asked, of course we ended up going out.
We basically chilled out for our 4 days in Lisbon – we did make it to the beach one day, we did attempt an open-top bus tour on a hangover (and promptly had to exit the bus..) we did a kickass barcrawl with the hostel and we managed to fit in some shopping (and a lot of eating!!). The few days we were in Lisbon also happened to coincide with a huge street festival – hundreds of people through the streets with live music from DJs hanging out of balconies, and the streets were bursting with bars and traditional Portuguese food stalls. It was AMAZING and wow weren’t we lucky to stumble across it!? One night we also managed to see Hannah from Soton uni in Lisbon as that’s where she’s spending her year abroad, so that was super lovely! Effectively Lisbon was a cycle of chilling on the rooftop terrace at the hostel, meeting cool people, spontaneous nights out and doing totally nothing – what a great start to our 3 weeks hey?!
Next stop – Brussels! We flew to Brussels from Lisbon airport. Brussels was only a quick stopover, but we stayed in a really nice hostel (that was more like a huge hotel) called the Meininger and it was only a 10-minute walk from the city centre. Brussels was lovely – a small city, but all the waffles and chocolate you can eat, and all the beer you could possibly ever want to drink so what could be better? I can’t actually believe how much I like beer now when this time last year I wouldn’t even touch it. We definitely made the most of all Brussels had to offer in the only night we had there.
The next day we travelled on to Amsterdam – a relatively short train journey from Brussels, and on a really nice train!! Upon arrival in Amsterdam I literally did fall in love with the city: beautiful canals, bikes everywhere and really friendly Dutch people. We stayed in the Bulldog hostel which is just off Dam Square so very central, and just next to the Red Light District. The hostel wasn’t great even though it was expensive, and no one was very sociable (even though we were in a room of 13!!) so that was a bit of a downer, but Amsterdam itself was fantastic. The Sex Museum was an absolute hoot, our classy boat ride with a G&T in hand was beautiful, the Rijksmuseum was good, the Red Light District was surreal and if you’re going to Amsterdam be SO aware of the bikes – you could literally be run over so easily, there are hundreds of bikes everywhere you look. The weather was also very good to us in Amsterdam – sun sun sun.
After 3 nights in Amsterdam we headed to Berlin. Berlin is a ginormously vast city and so we had a right job to try and fit everything we wanted to do into 3 days. First things first, the history in Berlin is fascinating – history is something I find hugely interesting so it was an amazing place to be. We stayed just out of the city centre, at Obstanhof but only a 2-minute walk from the East Side Gallery where a huge section of the graffiti’d Berlin Wall can be seen. Our hostel had a pool and a sauna so we were loving life; but again it wasn’t a particularly sociable hostel. Whilst in Berlin we did two Sandemans walking tours – one included some of the history of the Nazi regime in Berlin including a visit to the amazing Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe where the architect has done a very effective job of making a low-key but very meaningful memorial. We also went to Checkpoint Charlie and a section of the Berlin Wall; a big thanks to our very knowledgeable tour guide as she made the 2.5 hour tour really worthwhile and I could’ve carried on listening to her for so many more hours.
Our second tour was one about the culture and art in Berlin wherein we visited some squats, the Berlin Wall and also a couple of different districts where you can see lots of different types of great street art. We managed to fit in a bar crawl in Berlin where a WHOPPING SEVEN PEOPLE turned up. Despite the turnout it was a really good night, we explored some really funky bars and ended up in a massive club called Matrix. Luckily Matrix was only a 100m walk from our hostel so we had a very easy time getting home at 4.30am. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to fit in any museums in Berlin, but we would both love to go back to this fascinating city asap so we can explore it some more. Berlin is not very easily do-able in only 3 days.. it’s too huge!
Onwards to Prague! Prague is a gorgeous little city that has managed to keep a lot of its character despite the tourism. We stayed in a hostel just over the other side of the Charles Bridge, and we had some really nice people in our room. The hostel had gorgeous rooms with bathrooms that are nicer than most peoples’ bathrooms at home!! Prague was so cheap and the food was so yummy, particularly the Trdelnik – rolled dough wrapped around a stick and baked on a spit then covered in sauce, I had chocolate yummm. You have to eat one of these when visiting Prague! We went on an amazingly fun bar crawl here with about 120 other people; it was such a fun night. The first hour of the crawl had an open bar so that was pretty crazy.. We also went to the ice bar in Prague on our other night there – I would advise you to NOT wear flip flops to this bar, like I did.. it hurt.
We also did a Sandemans tour in Prague but it was in 32-degree heat and at the hottest point of the day so it was a little uncomfortable, but equally was still very good. We got shown around the big Jewish quarter in Prague and it was fascinating to link the history of Berlin with the history of Prague. Whilst leaving Prague the next morning we had a 2-hour evacuation from the train station due to a suspected bomb inside which was pretty scary..
From Prague we headed to Budapest. Oh Buda – we literally had SO much fun in this city. We stayed in Retox Party Hostel which was absolutely mental but completely buzzing and we are so glad we stayed here. It definitely isn’t for the light-hearted, but if you want to party it on up and meet some great people then this is the place for you in Budapest. Within half an hour of arriving at the hostel we were drinking and getting ready to go on a Boat Party – the Boat Party was mental and we each got a bottle of champagne included in our ticket. We stumbled across a big group of Soton uni students on the boat – what are the chances??
The weather in Buda was beautiful, and we spent most of our time in Budapest not doing too much. We did manage to make it up to the highest point in Buda on our second day with our Aussie roomies which was great fun, even on a hangover.. and we also managed to go to a water park the day after with them, which was sick too. On our second night we went to a fab rooftop bar that overlooks Buda, and after that our hostel hosted an Alcoholympics which was bloody hilarious (as a spectator…). On our final night in Buda we went on a massive bar crawl with the hostel, and it was to old ruins bars that are hidden in quirky side streets and I’ve never been to bars like them before, they were insane. These bars are a definite must if you’re visiting Budapest!
We were super sad to leave Budapest as we had an absolutely buzzing time, but we knew that we’d have a great time in Munich too, as we were going to see The 1975!!! We arrived in Munich and it was a pretty hectic turnaround as we literally dumped our stuff in the hostel and then headed out to the concert. The 1975 were fantastic and we couldn’t be happier that we planned our entire interrailing journey around this concert. We spent the rest of our time in Munich basically chilling out as we had a lot of sleep to catch up on. We ate some amazing food, visited a fabulously funky ice cream shop Der Verruckte Eismacher which has an Alice in Wonderland theme, and delicious ice cream – thanks to my brother’s girlfriend for the recommendation!!
To end our interrailing, we parted ways at Munich airport and flew back to our respective Bristol and Manchester, not without delays of course.. It felt good to arrive back in England, but then I only had a 3-day changeover before heading to see Naomi in Manchester for 2 days before flying to Mallorca with her family!! But that’s for the next blog post..
Anyway, thank you so so much to all the amazing people we met whilst interrailing – all of you legends really enhanced our experience!
Adios! And sorry for the 1800 words of babble, I never know how to cut it down..