Anyone who knows me even vaguely will know that the answer that I don’t really do plans or that if there is one, it is most likely going to change.
I’m not big on being tied down to an itinerary. Surely the key thing about wanderlust has to be wandering and seeing what you find? It’s arguably part of why I’ve lived on a boat and continuously travelled around for 23 years.
A late starter
I only got my first passport at the age of 41. Four days in Barcelona with my sister was a really good start. A completely unplanned visit to Venice came next, when the weather for my planned summer holiday boating turned out to be depressingly wet after just two days. Soon I started to combine travel with my passion for live musing and started travelling to concerts. Denmark, Germany, Spain, Norway, Poland, France, Italy…
I love to wander, to explore, see where I end up. The featured photo on this post is an astonishing bit of architecture I happened across in Vienna in 2020. I was on a tram (I forget where to) and just had to jump off and see this, as well as another building by the same architect, just around the corner. These chance discoveries are what make a good day a great day.
And so to 2023, the start of my third passport (don’t mention the colour!) I have a 2 month Interrail Pass, and only the vaguest of plans. I want to see some of the great railway journeys of Europe. I want to get as far north and as far south as I can. Getting to most westerly point should also happen, though I’m not even going to think about the eastern limit – which for an Interrail pass appears to be a station in the middle of nowhere close the border between Turkey and Iran. I wonder if anyone ever has?
The reality is that I can’t actually go away for two months continuously – I’m neither a student nor retired – so the plan is to have three trips of roughly a fortnight each, and a fourth one of a week, with a week at home between them. That takes me just over the duration of my pass, so the first six days are going to be done on normal tickets. That solves the problem of home country travel (I’m only allowed two days travel in mainland Britain) and also means that I won’t use up any days when I’m meeting up with friends in Berlin on days 4, 5 and 6.
The Berlin meeting also has a concert involved, as do my planned visits to Antwerp, on the first evening of the whole trip, and Madrid, at the end of the third. Those are the only nights for which I have pre-booked hotels. The rest I will improvise based on the following:
Trip 1 – Antwerp, Wuppertal, Wernigrode, Berlin. After that, probably south into Switzerland and back up the valley of the Rhine, possibly taking in Luxembourg, though there is also a completely different possibility up to Oslo and Bergen (but that would need a flight home.)
Trip 2 – Hamburg, Stockholm, for the sleeper into the Arctic Circle, Narvik. Down the coast of Norway to Trondheim, then north again to cross into Finland around the top of the Gulf of Bothnia. South to Helsinki then depending on timings, possibly over to Talinn, and find a way through the Baltic states into Poland.
Trip 3 – south down the west coast of France and along the north coast of Spain. South through Portugal to Lisbon. south to Faro then back into Spain via Seville to Algeciras (next to Gibraltar.) North to Madrid and back through the centre of France.
Trip 4 – Crossing via Fishguard / Rosslare then as much of Ireland as I can fit in, returning via Larne – Stranraer, so making good use of the last day of domestic travel.