Interrail 2002 - Our first adventure

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Wednesday 23 April 2014

Interrail 2002 - Our first adventure

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.

Werfen Ice Caves
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
With just a few days left of our trip we decided to head as far north as we could so caught a night train to Copenhagen, which we loved, even though we camped in the worst thunderstorm either of us can remember. We even made a special detour to visit Legoland Denmark on our way back to Holland where our adventure ended and where I met Esther's Oma and Opa for the first time.

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
We learned a lot of important lessons during the month away. It certainly bought us closer together and showed us how happy we were on the road and not always knowing where we would be sleeping that night. We learned the importance of decent gear although it would be years before we could afford to do much about it. We also realised how much we enjoyed the travel, not just being in a new place but getting there as well. We didn't know that 12 years later we'd setting off for a much bigger adventure, but I do think that it was that first adventure that sowed the seeds.

Still smiling after 4 weeks on the road

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