After a long and gruelling University schedule, summer is the time to explore, grow and relax.
During my summer between 1st and 2nd year at University, I packed my life into a bag and travelled Europe with my best friend. With no clue where we would end up, we travelled through 10 countries, stopping off in 9 and making memories that lasted forever!
It is something I would highly recommend doing. We met amazing people from all over the world and seen parts of the world we probably otherwise would not have seen. Here are some of the highlights from my trip;
Inter-Rail was our chosen form of transportation. It was the easiest option for us. We could jump on and jump off, well at stations, as we wished and overall it just gave us a bit more freedom to explore the places we really wanted to go to!
It was a great way to meet new people and gain inspiration for our journey. We met all types from all over the world; a mother and daughter from Mexico who was touring Europe to celebrate her 15th birthday, we met a young couple from Berlin who were taking the long train to Prague for a wedding (which they were already late for) and a very enthusiastic young traveller who was very excited about exploring Italy!
The planning process is such an exciting process. We started off by deciding on what places we really wanted to go to, which for us was Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague and Venice. We then developed a route and then identified which cities we would have to stop off in to cut up our journey on the train. We tried to stay away from overnight rains, even though it would have saved on accommodation, we wanted to experience the most of every city and that included the 'hostel life'. Places like Berlin, Budapest and Rimini were all added to break up a long journey and even though we didn't plan to go to them nor spend a lot of time there, they ended up being the best places overall, as were didn't have any expectations.
This was my travel itinerary: Brussels > Amsterdam > Berlin > Prague > Budapest > Venice > Rome > Rimini > Paris
Away we go
We set off on the Eurostar from St. Pancras, as our Inter-Rail ticket is only valid on mainland Europe. Our first stop was Brussels. We packed our bags full of copious amounts of clothes, looking back we probably had a different outfit for each day... not ideal when you are carrying it on your back for a month! But hey we were away! We stocked up the night before with drinks and bread and things we could snack on whilst on the move. It was a lifesaver especially when we would get to hostels late and was desperate for something to eat!
Berlin was a 'stopover' destination for us. We never really saw it as a place that either of us wanted to go to so we didn't really know what to expect. When we arrived in Berlin it can apparent that with both of us not speaking a word of German, apart from hello, we would struggle to get around. We managed to get our way through Belgium and Netherlands with our high school French, but German was a whole different ball game. So we ended up walking miles and miles through Berlin to get to our Hostel, which worked out well because we actually got to see parts of the city we otherwise wouldn't have seen!
By the time I got to the hostel I was in love with Berlin! It's energy and it's 'scruffiness' was beautiful and it had something intriguing about it. We dumped out bags and headed straight to the city centre... well as least we thought we were. We talked to a random girl, which ended up being a lovely Swedish girl who was living in Berlin for the summer months to party! She took us to the coolest bars, a beach bar on what looked like a construction site, and the coolest nightclub in an abandoned power station to be exact. The divide of the city can still be apparent and it is amazing to see and it really adds to the atmosphere and the vibe of the city.
Tip: In London, it is common for people to go out before midnight. In Berlin... it is not. We went out at 10 pm and was greeted by an almost ghost town and by 1 pm people appeared out of where! Berlin Hotel: Generator
Prague was a scheduled stop and something we both really wanted to go to. It has been recommended to us by almost everyone! We stayed in Prague for 2 night and our Hostel was the best of the trip. We had our own bedroom in an apartment that we shared with 3 others, there were a bar and a nightclub as well as a pool and sauna... all for the small price of €7 a night! A NIGHT! We could have moved in! It had great connections to the city and had great restaurants and bars on the hostel's doorstep!
For the hostel alone... it was a plus! Prague is a lovely city filled with even lovelier people which all made our trip more enjoyable.
Tip: Double and trip check you have the right ticket for the metro/tube. Policemen wait at metro stations close to hostels and picked us out from the crowd (must have looked like such a tourist!) and gave us a fine of €50. Also... don't jaywalk... they are kind of funny about that too!
Budapest was a 'stop over' location between travelling from Prague to Venice. We stayed at a lovely house right in the city centre and there was a real community feel to it. One night as a group (along with a two or three other travellers and a family) we made traditional Hungarian food with the woman who owned the hostel which tasted amazing! They also offered to wash and iron all of our clothes for us! It was great!
With that aside, one of the contributing factors to giving Budapest a 3-star rating was that it rained the ENTIRE time we were there. I know you shouldn't factor in the weather when rating a city because it is not their fault, but it really ruined our time in Budapest. With a few cool bars and restaurants... we struggled to fill our time... we know there is a famous Budapest Baths but we didn't go... let's not go into that!
After living on a budget, we decided to include a 'party spot' on our travels. Somewhere to let our hair down and really enjoy ourselves... and top up the tan! As we were in Rome we decided to make the three-hour journey northeast to the Italian coastal town, Rimini.
We stayed at a small hostel called Sunflower Beach Backpacker Hostels & Bar close to the beach. The hostel had a great atmosphere as soon as we walked through... the type of atmosphere you would expect from a backpacker hostel. We arrived just as the bar crawl party was setting up. We quickly threw our bags in our room and headed straight downstairs. The staff were welcoming and so energetic which made us feel right at home.
We ended up staying in Rimini for four days. We partied every night, sunbathed all day and met some amazing people from all over the world! Everyone that was staying in the hostel was like one big family. We all went out together, pre-drank together and dance the night away together. It was great. We met musicians from Germany, fashion designers from New Zealand, party animals from Bedford and solo traveller from Miami, USA.
This summer's antics was one I will never forget! Me and my friend share these memories and that is something so special to have.
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