An InterRail Tale

As I come to the close of trip (albeit one with an extra night in London due to returning on the day of a rail strike) I thought I’d do a little #tripnote

It has been a brilliant experience I have to say – though it was hardly a traditional InterRail adventure. For one I went first class the whole way. I also reserved my travel on all but two trains…and stayed in what amount to low end business hotel chains mainly (Ibis, Premier Inn, MotelOne, CitizenM and Mecure). This removed a lot of the spontaneity but almost all the stress.

It was lovely to see Sharon and Martin while I was sad to miss out on seeing Ian and Warren – close but no cigar. As last hurrahs for my year off go it was a great success and the confirmation of my return to work coming in the final days of the trip was a nice coincidence.

Best Journey: Berlin to Prague was beautiful alongside the river – really spectacular – like the set of one of those Netflix Christmas movies at times! I really didn’t realise Germany was such a gorgeous country away from the cities.

The ICE trains in Germany were the best closely followed by the Swiss train from Zurich to Paris.

Worst Journey: Prague to Munich was a slog. It was always going to be long but was delayed from the off, then cancelled halfway along with a whole packed train disembarking at a small station with minimal facilities and staff. I decided not to fight my way onto the recommended connection and instead got an initially quieter train to Nuremberg (their footy team playing at home that evening spiced things up a couple of stops later!) and then I grabbed a connection to Munich on a quiet ICE high speed train. So it worked out but 8 hours of trains was hard going.

Best museum/gallery: not sure anything will ever beat STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam. It is always difficult to display street art in a gallery setting as it loses something without scale – my gosh they’ve solved that issue! Great mix of artists in an amazing and unique venue. Plus a little ferry ride to get there.

MUCA in Munich was a pleasant surprise – a really nice collection from big names in street art – including a bunch from Banksy.

Urban Nation in Berlin was a bit disappointing – it leaned into a bunch of styles that felt a bit too art school rather than street.

FIFA museum was fun and it was cool to see the World Cup! Looked brilliant for kids with lots of interactive stuff. Shows some of that bribe money was well used.

Pompidou was as great as I remembered – but also as busy. It is such an amazing building just visiting it is half the fun. Plus the Chris Ware mini exhibit was there which was really interesting.

Best neighbourhood: St Pauli in Hamburg was brilliant. Just the right mix of grimy and hipster with a fair bit of drunken debauchery. Proper graffiti scene rather than street art and the locals LOVE their footy team. I’d love to go back and see a game sometime.

Best street art: The point of the trip really and it has been a big success – Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris have been amazing on this front. Hamburg and Munich had some really nice moments. Even Zurich had a decent spot – mainly saved by the location. I didn’t get to the Prague spots due to the heat but I’m chuffed with how it all worked out.

Worst hotel: despite the hilarity of the barely single bed at the Mecure in Munich they redeemed themselves with the free minibar and the lovely staff. So I think the Ibis in Amsterdam ‘wins’ out. It was the smallest room I’ve been in for years and while it was clean it was pretty beat up after I assume years of stag dos! The staff were helpful but pretty overwhelmed and the bar was pretty average.

Best hotel: A tie between Ibis Styles in Zurich and CitizenM in Paris. Neither was spectacular but they did all the things I want well. Decent bar, good Wi-Fi, quiet, climate control in room, ability to stream to the TV and not too many random lights you can’t switch off (at NYX in Prague there was a blue LED strip along one wall that for the life of me I couldn’t find a switch for!)

Best day out: while Urban Nation was a bit of a miss that day in Berlin was amazing. I basically bounced around Berlin on a mix of trams, trains and elevated subway spotting street art and then backtracking to explore – I ended up out for about six hours – until my AirPods died.

Best night: in Zurich randomly following a few people into a courtyard surrounded by the National museum and what appeared to be medieval churches where there was some kind of event with bars, street food and a deejay (turns out this was a summer long event run by local radio station!). Quite a few beers, a pizza and some gelato later and I was pretty chilled out 😆

Best grub: the Bahn Mi in Prague were first class as was the fried rice from Wokin there as well. The Satay in Berlin was a win as well. The Currywurst and pomme frites is always fun but it’s safe to say the Netherlands, Germany or Czechia aren’t going to be on my list of culinary destinations!

I’m actually still here in Paris for 24 hours but I’m running on empty and it is 35 degrees. So apart from trying to buy a couple of t-shirts I’m going to have a couple of hotels beers and hide in my air conditioned room!

Onwards.

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