Today marks a year since I set off on the first of my six Interrail adventures in 2023. I’ve been looking back at the posts I added at the time, and at the many photos and videos that didn’t make it onto the diary.

I created this site mostly for myself, so that I could remind myself of an adventure that happened at a speed that made it easy to forget the individual moments. One of the things that really surprised me, as someone who has never written any more than is absolutely necessary, was that I enjoyed the process of creating the diary entries at least as much as I enjoy reading them back. That other people have started to read them too, is a bit of a bonus.

Updating the diary as I travel through snowy Netherlands
Updating the diary as I travel through snowy Netherlands

The first one was definitely about breaking myself into a way of travelling, living and working. One of my main recollections of day one, without needing to even read the diary entry is locking my key card in the room at the very first hotel – not once, not even twice, but three times in an evening. I’ve never done that even once before and have not done it since, but it was an interesting start to the trip, and perhaps reveals more about my excited (terrified?!) state of mind than I realised at the time.

It was also about starting to tick off bucket list items. My visits to the Harz Railway and Bernina Express both fall into that category. They absolutely lived up to expectations and the fun thing is that both are part of networks that I can go back to another time.

Riding on the balcony directly next to the engine on the Harz was an unexpected bonus – not least as it was a way to warm up slightly on a bitterly cold March morning. I was surprised to discover carriages with balconies back in the UK on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, a few months later. A much smaller line, but utterly charming, and I highly recommend it.

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway
Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

On the Bernina I’d upgraded my Interrail pass to travel in the observation car with wrap around windows but in retrospect I would prefer to have been in the normal stock as that had slide down windows that you could hang out of to take photos (something you definitely wouldn’t see on service trains in the UK.) I’ll know for next time.

A luxury I’d allowed myself with this pass was first class travel. I lost count of the number of times I was glad of that during this trip, not just for the occasional drinks and/or snacks but more importantly it was often the only place that I could get a seat at all.

It wasn’t just about the trains though. Berlin is one of my favourite cities and having time to visit the Reichstag and the East Side Gallery, neither of which I’d done before, made that a highlight of this trip. I’d squeezed in quick trips to a couple of Cinque Terre villages and to Genoa as I passed through Italy, both of which I’ll go back to, as I will to Verona, which I spent just one evening in. One thing I’ve definitely learned in the past year is that my love for Italy grows, the more I see of it.

Manarola from the coast path

Maybe that is what this is all about, an extended recce for holidays yet to come. I quite like that thought, though I also very much enjoy the feeling of being on the move constantly. Ironically, I’m at my most relaxed when my brain has to focus on living in that moment. Doing nothing invariably leads me back to thinking about the more challenging parts of my world, be that in work or domestically.

This year has more than it’s share of things to keep me busy, having moved home a month ago. I had intended to do more Interrailing this year, but I’m not sure where I’d fit it in so this is going to be a year mostly spent in the UK (though an Interrail-type adventure in Scotland of 7-10 days is looking likely at some point.)

Meanwhile I decided to merge some of the photos and video from this trip into a short film, which I’ve linked to below.