Archive for June, 2006

Early days and Inter-rail

Well, the hangover has finally gone away after a few weeks of celebrating the end of my university degree and though there is no plan to finish partying any time soon I figured I would use this temporary clarity of mind to post an update.

Though I haven’t spent a great deal of time getting anything done, I have spent lots of time wondering what cities I want to visit while I am out and about in Europe which not easy when you are so spoilt for choice. With Inter-rail I can go just about anywhere in Europe over the course of a month. For those who don’t know, Inter-rail is a Europe wide pass which allows you to travel anywhere within the continent within a given time period. Sort of like a 1-6 Tube Travelcard, but for all of Europe. It is available to any European resident and gives access to 29 countries divided into 8 zones.

You can buy a 1 Zone – 16 day pass, 2 Zone – 22 day pass or (my likely option) Global – 1 month pass, and price varies with age. Travel within your own nation is not permitted, so I will have to pay my way over to France before the Inter-rail pass kicks in. More details for your own pricing band are available here if you are interested, but it looks likely that my under-26 global pass will set me back around £285, not bad considering you can spend close to that amount on a monthly return from London to Portsmouth. Non-European residents would do best to look at the Eurail pass, which I gather is much the same but for people outside of the continent.

I mentioned earlier that I am on a tight budget for this trip, so I have to make my choices of city conservative. My main battle will be accommodation, which stands to devour most of my cash. Hostels are all good for a cheap(ish) place to lay my head but I believe there are far more economical ways of getting across the place short of kipping on train station benches. I am going to have a more detailed look at the absolute zero-budget approach to getting around later, but first I am faced with choosing where to go. So now you see why I can’t make my bloody mind up. I know I want to go through Scandinavia for a large part of my trip, and I also want to head east, maybe as far as the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Heading south would be nice, but would make my goal of spending plenty of time in the far north unrealistic. So a likely route would be an arc curving across France and Germany into the beginnings of Eastern Europe, whipping up north, completing my Scandinavian objectives, and gliding to a halt at my friend Jonas’ house in Helsinki, a few hours from St. Petersburg. The individual cities I will confirm at a later time after I figure out if I know anybody I can visit along the way, but this is the plan for now!

From Helsinki, the journey is a lot more direct with one way tickets being the order of the day. I am awaiting some e-mails which will clear up the fine details of this leg of the trip so I’ll leave that until I know what I am talking about.

(I promise soon this time, not another month from now…)