The first tour we ever did was an Interrail tour of Central Europe in summer 2002, after being together for just 5 months. I can't remember how we picked our destination, but Esther was the driving force behind us taking off and spending our summer in a tent around Europe, which was a much more exciting prospect than working another summer at Directory Enquiries. Back in 2002 the Interrail tickets were much more generous than they seem today, including unlimited travel in your zones for the whole validity period. We both paid around £180 for a 2 zone - 1 month pass including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy and Denmark. This meant we could go anywhere in these countries whenever we wanted for a whole month. Sounded great.
|Not sure we took enough stuff?|
However, this flexibility was essential given our near complete lack of planning for our trip. Having decided to go and buying plane and railtickets we had no idea what we were going to do when we landed in Salzburg in late July. Instead we found ourselves at about 5am, sat in the backseat of Esther's mums car, ripping pages out of travel brochures on our way to Luton airport. Our gear had received the same level of attention. Hastily packed the night before leaving and carrying one of the heaviest 2 person tents from Decathlon beneath borrowed rucksacks stuffed full of fleeces and very thin sleeping bags, we went forth. Perhaps the least technical bit of kit was our air mattresses for which we'd decided on lilos. Oh well, even though we were going to find out they offered no insulation from the cold ground, at least they were multipurpose.
Our budget was also tight and we'd set ourselves the generous limit of 5 Euros each per day for food and 12 Euros for camping. About a week into our journey I had to concede that I was going to have to up the food or starve slowly (I didn't put it quite so politely at the time). Fortunately we were much less diet conscious as 18 and 19 year olds and you can buy quite a lot of budget bread and salami for under 10 Euros a day.
|In the Alps at the Werfen Ice Caves|
We made our way from Salzburg to Vienna, Klagenfurt, Postojna, Trieste, Venice, Geneva, Lausanne and Basel. Highlights, well there are just too many to mention them all but special mention should go to the Ice Caves in Werfen, Austria and cycling around the Wurthersee in Klagenfurt and swimming in the lake. Less auspicious mentions to Esther's systemic response to mosquito bites in Venice that left us struggling to learn the Italian for 'itchy'; messing up the trains to Geneva and waking up in Genoa; and having to visit an Austrian department store to replace our punctured lilos. However, the new lilos did have lighthouses on them and we also picked up a baby blanket with an elephant on to stop us freezing at night.
|Fine dining in Lausanne|
|Passing the miles|
Our most treasured possessions on the trip were our camera and camera films in our pre-digital age. During the month long trip we went through 15 rolls of film which we lovingly carried everywhere in our fashionable Mizuno bumbag along with travel docs and a newly acquired travelling companion, Gerald the Giraffe who joined us in Vienna and who has come on most of our travels since.
|Fun times at Legoland|